Open Source Software And Android

Most Android users don’t give much thought to the licencing and philosophy of the software that they use on their mobile devices. The PlayStore is where the majority of the world’s apps come from, and for the general user, this is more than enough. But an entirely separate world of software lives apart from what Google provides, Free and Open Source. These are apps that have their source code available to the general public and can be “forked” or created into new, independent projects without the fear of copyright infringement.

There are a lot of benefits to using Free and Open Source (FOSS from now on) apps on an Android device. Let’s take a look at some of the most compelling reasons that more people should give FOSS software a chance.

Hidden Privacy Concerns

The problem with closed source or proprietary software is that the developers behind it can add anything they like, and there’s no way of knowing what’s going on behind the scenes. A proprietary app, for example, might collect an uncomfortable amount of information about the user and their device, and then sell that information to third parties without the user’s knowledge.

While most companies today have privacy policies, these are often difficult to understand for someone not versed in legal contracts, and it’s easy to sign over a lot of personal data without evening knowing about it. While not every open source app is going to be free from data collection or telemetry, at least the developer is not able to try and hide what they are doing from the public.

Break Away From Android and iOS: 7 Free Open-Source Mobile OSes to Try |  PCMag

The Cost

The “free” in FOSS doesn’t actually relate to the cost of the software, but rather the Free software movement, which focuses on creating software that anyone can use and modify and redistribute. But most FOSS apps are completely free to use, with many developers and organisations asking for donations rather than forcing a subscription service or once-off fee. This can vary from app to app, however, and a lot of developers will limit access to more advanced features of an app until it’s paid for.

Regardless, almost all of the apps found on FOSS stores like F-Droid are completely free to download and install. If an app is particularly useful, it’s a good idea to donate to the developer of the app in order to help continue maintaining it.

Community Support

There will always be bugs and other issues in software, and a user will be able to efficiently deal with any bugs they come across by making use of support.

For proprietary software, this usually means having to contact the company and set up a support ticket, much like when you contact a casino when you have a question about playing online blackjack real money games. Open source support is, however, often based on large, community forums, where it’s sometimes possible to even chat to the developer directly. Open source software is usually quite easy to troubleshoot, as at least someone else would have experienced the problem before and asked about it.