While the Play Store is generally the more accepting and pervasive of the two big mobile application platforms, it still needs a fair amount of moderation to keep out the riff-raff. Malware, spyware, annoying apps that put things like [Free Download] in the title, it's all got to go. But it looks like Google is getting more aggressive in enforcing its more general developer terms, especially when it comes to payments. Case in point: Language Transfer.
Most Android devices (at least those that are decidedly not made by Huawei) come equipped with the Google Play Store. Sure, there are notable outliers, like Amazon Fire tablets, which are somewhat locked into Amazon's parallel app ecosystem, but those are the exceptions that prove the rule. While other device vendors and mobile carriers have historically offered their own app stores, there's also a carrier/network independent distribution system for Android apps: Say hello to F-Droid, the free and open alternative to commercial app stores.
Signal has always been heralded as the security-aware alternative to WhatsApp and Co. due to its open-source nature, but the nonprofit behind the chat app hasn't always stuck to its original open-source promises. While it regularly publishes the code of its client apps, Signal failed to update the Github repository for its server for almost a year, as reported by German publication Golem — though earlier today, the company pushed out an update with a more recent release.
If you're an Android user, Google has a scary amount of information on you, and matters get worse if you're deeply embedded in the company's app ecosystem — getting locked out of your Google account can have serious consequences then. Thankfully, Android is open source, so it's possible to evade Google without having to leave the platform altogether — just look at Amazon's tablets or Huawei's Google-less phones. But if you'd rather be completely independent from big corporations, going for a free and open-source custom ROM built on top of Android's core might be the best solution.
We're big fans of Google, obviously. But we also live in the real world, where Google does a lot of stuff that's unambiguously bad. If you want to use open source Android without getting its parent company involved, then you have a few options. Previously only available in Europe, the eSolutions shop is now selling versions of the Galaxy S9 scrubbed clean of all proprietary Google software to the US and Canada.
Fellow Mac users know what a pain in the bum Google's official Android File Transfer application is on macOS. Luckily, there are tons of alternatives, and the most accessible one just got even better. OpenMTP version 3.0 gives the open-source tool long-awaited improvements like Samsung phone support, a dark theme, and drag-and-drop from Finder.
This story was originally published and last updated .
If you've ever used the Android Debug Bridge (ADB), you know that it's such a hassle to set up (if you don't happen to be a developer who installed Android Studio already anyway). But with new web tools like the WebUSB API, there's no longer a need to rely on local software to fulfill the most basic ADB needs. That's where WebADB comes in, a free and open-source web service spotted by XDA Developers that allows you to debug Android devices from any supported browser.
Google Play Music is still superior to YouTube Music for people who just want to listen to their own uploaded songs, even if YouTube Music has been catching up a lot lately. But with the demise of the Google Play Music Manager ahead of the full shutdown, users are left without an automated solution for uploading their local library. That's where an open-source tool comes in: The unofficial YTMusicUploader replicates the Music Manager's capabilities and lets you choose a path on your Windows computer for automatic uploading to YTM.
Like the world at large, schooling is a bit of a mess right now in these pandemic times. For students at home, that means missing out on precious laboratory time. Science Journal was a Google app that let amateur scientists use the sensors on their phones to perform simple, yet valuable experiments. We say "was" because open-source microcontroller designer Arduino has acquired the app and we have just learned from Google when a big transition will take place.
After publishing the source code of its COVID-19 tracing app, Ireland's Health Service has now additionally donated the code to the Linux Foundation. To make it available to other governments with as little modifications as possible, the company behind the application, NearForm, has built a white-label solution called "COVID Green."