5 open source mobile apps

5 open source mobile apps

You can count on these apps to meet your needs for productivity, communication, and entertainment.

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Like most people in the world, I'm rarely further than an arm's reach from my smartphone. My Android device provides a seemingly limitless number of communication, productivity, and entertainment services thanks to the open source mobile apps I've installed from Google Play and F-Droid.

​​​​​​Of the many open source apps on my phone, the following five are the ones I consistently turn to whether I want to listen to music; connect with friends, family, and colleagues; or get work done on the go.


An Android controller for the Music Player Daemon (MPD)

MPD is a great way to get music from little music server computers out to the big black stereo boxes. It talks straight to ALSA and therefore to the Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC) via the ALSA hardware interface, and it can be controlled over my network—but by what? Well, it turns out that MPDroid is a great MPD controller. It manages my music database, displays album art, handles playlists, and supports internet radio. And it's open source, so if something doesn't work…

MPDroid is available on Google Play and F-Droid.


An Android internet radio tuner that I use standalone and with Chromecast

RadioDroid is to internet radio as MPDroid is to managing my music database; essentially, RadioDroid is a frontend to Internet-Radio.com. Moreover, RadioDroid can be enjoyed by plugging headphones into the Android device, by connecting the Android device directly to the stereo via the headphone jack or USB, or by using its Chromecast capability with a compatible device. It's a fine way to check the weather in Finland, listen to the Spanish top 40, or hear the latest news from down under.

RadioDroid is available on Google Play and F-Droid.


A secure messaging client for Android, iOS, and desktop

If you like WhatsApp but are bothered by its getting-closer-every-day relationship to Facebook, Signal should be your next thing. The only problem with Signal is convincing your contacts they're better off replacing WhatsApp with Signal. But other than that, it has a similar interface; great voice and video calling; great encryption; decent anonymity; and it's supported by a foundation that doesn't plan to monetize your use of the software. What's not to like?

Signal is available for Android, iOS, and desktop.


Android SSH client

Sometimes I'm far away from my computer, but I need to log into the server to do something. ConnectBot is a great solution for moving SSH sessions onto my phone.

ConnectBot is available on Google Play.


Android terminal emulator with many familiar utilities

Have you ever needed to run an awk script on your phone? Termux is your solution. If you need to do terminal-type stuff, and you don't want to maintain an SSH connection to a remote computer the whole time, bring the files over to your phone with ConnectBot, quit the session, do your stuff in Termux, and send the results back with ConnectBot.

Termux is available on Google Play and F-Droid.

What are your favorite open source mobile apps for work or fun? Please share them in the comments.


About the author

Chris Hermansen portrait Temuco Chile
Chris Hermansen - Seldom without a computer of some sort since graduating from the University of British Columbia in 1978, I have been a full-time Linux user since 2005, a full-time Solaris and SunOS user from 1986 through 2005, and UNIX System V user before that. On the technical side of things, I have spent a great deal of my career as a consultant, doing data analysis and visualization; especially spatial data analysis. I have a substantial amount of related programming experience, using C, awk, Java,...