Play Store is the great app store for Android, but it is not the only way to obtain software for the Google system and F-Droid is another of the more interesting options as an alternative or complementary repository.
The digital distribution platforms for mobile applications have grown at an astonishing rate as the sales of smartphones and tablets that needed applications and games to take advantage of them have grown. Apple’s App Store is the greatest exponent of all of them, the most profitable (by far) on the planet and an essential part of Apple’s multimillion-dollar business in mobility.
Google’s counterpart for Android is the Play Store. As an official store, it is the reference site for obtaining software for the system due to its ease of use, security, tens of thousands of solutions to choose from (many of them free) and, of course, the support of Google. But there are a variety of other sources for Android software, especially if you stray from the norm and use custom ROMs that help extend the life of your smartphone.
F-Droid and the commitment to FOSS
Technically, F-Droid is not an app “store” because as free and open source software repository (FOSS) or “a catalog of free software applications for Android” as they quote, it is the opposite of a commercial platform. Although donations can be made, everything included is completely free.
What makes open source software special is that its code is freely available for anyone to use. And furthermore, it can be audited and improved by any developer. FOSS goes further and also encompasses free software, different from open source, but undoubtedly connected by open source.
Also, FOSS developers are generally concerned about the ethics and morality of use in software distribution and this is why F-Droid is the app store of choice for some of the most popular Android alternative ROMs.
F-Droid does not depend on Google
One of the big differences between the official store and this platform is the Google independencesince F-Droid apps can work without Google Play ServicesGoogle’s mobile service that includes a set of Google applications that are usually preloaded or preinstalled on smartphones or tablets that are sold with Android.
Perhaps for this reason it is common to see F-Droid as the preferred application store in custom ROMs such as LineageOS and GrapheneOSwhich by default do not include these Google Play services and the common applications that depend on them to function correctly.
If you are looking for alternatives to Google, greater privacy and a security-enhanced mobile experience, F-Droid makes it possible. Note that it is possible to download FOSS apps from other Internet sites, but this platform makes it much easier to find, install and keep them updated. makes it much easier to find them.
How to use F-Droid
It’s as simple as downloading the client (an APK executable file) from their website and install it like any other android app. If you work with a “standard” mobile with Play Services installed and you have not modified it, it is likely that you will have to grant additional permissions to be able to install software from alternative sources.
The app is configured and designed like most apps. other app stores. There is a “Latest” tab for new apps, a “Categories” tab to browse by genre, “Nearby” that allows you to install apps from other devices or browse repositories or mirrors on your SD card, and “Notices” that shows apps that have updates. available.
There is also a search function and downloads can be forced through the TOR network (requires Orbot) to improve privacy. Have a user forum and various help documents including tools to create additional or alternate repositories for publishing applications, or assist in creating, testing, and submitting metadata to the main repository.
Some apps are tagged with an “Anti-Feature” which explains that such software may not be particularly welcome to users concerned about privacy and may include location tracking, ads, in-app purchases, or source code no longer available against the standard of all FOSS movement software.
To install an application, visit its page directly or use the search to find it, touch install and that’s all there is to it. It is necessary to mention, although you already know it, that the number of apps available on F-Droid (over 3,000) is far from the three million offered by Google Play.
Obviously it is not an alternative for most, but if you are looking to get away from the official store and/or complement it, and you can survive on the move without Google, F-Droid is the best you will find and a good way to try other things beyond what the Internet giant offers.