Open source has a lot of advantages. It’s a flexible standard, it helps the community, and the community can help open source projects grow. Android is one of the most popular and more powerful open source projects of all time. Those who like seeing the code that runs on their phones are in luck. There are plenty of excellent open source apps on Android in addition to the OS itself. Here are some of the best open source apps for Android. Leave a comment with your favorite one if we didn’t list it! We also have links for all of the open source code listed here at the very end of the article. Enjoy!
Firefox is one of the most popular open source projects out there. The popular browser has mobile apps as well as desktop apps, obviously. It covers all of the basics, including cross-platform syncing, privacy browsing modes, add-ons, bookmarks, and that sort of stuff. Firefox underwent a major change in 2018 with better and faster browsing. This one is entirely free. There is also a beta version as well as a nightly version for those brave enough to try new features.
Google Chrome is the most popular web browser on the planet right now. It’s also open source via the Chromium project. There is some proprietary stuff with this one, but most of it is under Chromium. In fact, many smaller browsers use Chromium as their base as well. Everybody knows about Google Chrome, what it does, and how it works. This one also has several apps for those who want newer features earlier. They include Chrome Beta, Chrome Dev, and Chrome Canary. All of them are free.
Kodi is a popular open source app. However, this one actually isn’t great for phones. This one works best on Android set-top boxes. It’s a media center app with quick access to a ton of media, including photos, videos, and music. It also supports add-ons, although some are of questionable legality and we don’t recommend them. Otherwise, Kodi is a delightful alternative for many and it’s completely free and open source.
Lawnchair Launcher is one of the newer open source apps on the list. It’s a launcher with a stock Android theme. It closely resembles the Pixel Launcher, except with more features. They include Google Now integration (with an add-on), icon pack support, variable icon size, a blur mode, and other customizations. This one is still in beta. However, we feel comfortable recommending it to almost anybody. It’s also free, open source, and highly functional. It’s great for those who like a minimal launcher experience, but still want some customization features.
Open Camera is an open source camera app. It replaces (or augments) the main camera app for more functionality. This one includes full manual controls (device permitting), configurable hotkeys, HDR support, a widget, and support for some external microphones for videographers. We usually recommend that people stick with their stock camera app. It’s optimized for the camera on the device by the company that made the device. However, if you want to go open source, this is the best open source camera app available. It’s also free with an optional $1.99 donation price.
Phonograph is one of a few open source apps for music. The other ones are fine, but we liked this one the best. It features Material Design, something even popular music players don’t always do. Additionally, the app includes themes, Last.fm integration, tag editing, playlists, widgets, and more. Shuttle is another outstanding open source app as well. Both of them should get you where you need to be for your personal music collection.
QKSMS is one of the only open source SMS apps. It comes with all of the standard features, including customization, MMS, privacy features, Wear OS (Android Wear) support, TalkBack support for accessibility, and a black-out theme for AMOLED screens. We also really like its per-contact theming. It did go through a spell of not receiving updates and the developer is still catching up. However, this is about as good as it gets for open source SMS support.
Simple Mobile Tools is a developer on Google Play. They have a range of open source apps, including a calendar, a gallery, a drawing app, a contacts app, a note taking app, a file manager, flashlight, music player, camera, clock, and more. You can basically replace all of the stock apps on your device with these and they’re all free and open source. They all work well for basic replacements, although you may not find the largest list of features compared to some competitors. There is also a single $1.49 donation app that is entirely optional.
Telegram and Signal Private Messenger are two excellent open source apps for messaging. They let you send messages, images, etc over data. They both also support text and voice chats, end-to-end encryption, group chats, and more. The source code lets security researches audit both apps to make sure their security is top notch. Both of these apps are outstanding. However, if you twisted our arm, we would probably recommend Telegram first because it does seem to have more momentum and more people than Signal. That’s not a bad thing, but popularity does actually matter when it comes to messaging apps.
VLC is one of the most popular media players on any platform. The app is available on way more platforms than most other media players. Additionally, it’s open source and supports a range of unusual formats, like DVD ISOs, live stream links, and tons of audio codecs. It should cover all of the basics. However, we actually don’t recommend it as a dedicated audio player because it’s just a bit too clunky for that in our opinion. Otherwise, this one is fantastic.
If we missed any great open source apps, tell us about them in the comments! You can also check out our latest Android app and game lists here! You can also check out the open source code for all these apps with the following links: