Freeing (a little bit) my mobile

27 Oct 2017 / Leonardo Barichello

Last week the crowdfunding campaign for Librem 5 finished and they achieved their goal! Actually, they exceeded it in 42%, with more than 2 million dollars raised when the goal was 1.5 million. This was a huge achievement and since they are going fully open (hardware and software) and think this could be the beginning of linux's on mobiles. Although open software may never get a significant market share on mobiles, I am very glad that this option will exist and will be viable!

My only issue with the Librem 5 is its price. I do not like mobiles, I have one because it is convenient. So, I would never pay 600 dollars in such a device. My latest devices is a second hand Nextbit Robin that costed me 130 pounds. The device was chosen because it is considered (by some reviewers) as one of the best to run Lineage OS and because I could find a second hand in good conditions.

Unfortunately, as I use some google services and I could not make the mobile work as I needed without the basic google apps. So, my solution was to install OpenGApps (the micro version), which allowed me to use Gmail, Google Calendar and Play Store with no hustle. I know there is a lot of proprietary code behind these apps and services, but I feel this is a viable step towards openness. The micro version does not include Google Maps, which was important for me since I was getting really bothered by its alerts tracking my location even when I was not actively using the app.

My next step was to install F-Droid, an Android app repository for free and open source. My intention is progressively identify good apps that may enable me to get ride of all google apps. So far, here are some recommendations:

Sparse RSS: basic rss reader to gather news and blog posts. The look is not that great, but it does what it is meant to do. The only annoying feature is that the user has to provide the full address to the rss file (it does not detect it from the basic url of a blog, for instance).

Pretty Good Music Player: folder based music player. Simple, intuitive and functional. The problem for me is that it is not possible to close the app from the status bar and I like this feature.

Vanilla Music: music player that offers the possibility of navigating your collection according to artists, albums and so on, but also according to folders. The status bar provided is very useful and functional. I am very satisfied with this app so far.

Any new app, I will post here.


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