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The Google Play Store isn’t the only place you can download Android apps; there are a few alternative app stores worth checking out.
One of the most popular alternatives is F-Droid. It specializes in free and open source software. You can either install the store on your device, or download apps’ APK files directly from its webpage.
There’s some crossover between F-Droid and the Play Store; lots of apps are available on both platforms. Today, however, we’re only interested in apps that are exclusive to F-Droid.
Are you a regular reader of 4chan? The imageboard-based site is simultaneously one of the most popular and controversial places on the web.
Unfortunately for its fans, there is no official 4chan app. It should come as no surprise—Reddit, which is often considered 4chan-lite, also didn’t have an official app until surprisingly recently.
The Google Play Store does have a few third-party 4chan apps. The most popular among them is Mimi.
However, for more functionality, you need to turn to F-Droid. The Chanu app lets you browse boards, track threads, download images, and save your favorite boards. There’s also light and dark themes, widget support, and an offline mode.
Download: Chanu (Free)
Clover is an alternative 4chan reader. It was once available through Google Play, but now you will only find in on F-Droid.
Several of the features are the same as Chanu. You can watch threads, reply in-line, receive notifications, and apply several themes. However, Clover also supports some other imageboards. They include 8chan, Lainchan, and more.
Download: Clover (Free)
3. Beta Updater for WhatsApp
WhatsApp frequently receives new updates, many of which bring fresh features to the world’s most popular instant messaging app.
But what options do you have to get ahead of the curve? How can you get your hands on the beta releases?
If you’ve installed WhatsApp from the Google Play Store, you’re out of luck. Unlike Windows, Chrome, and other mainstream apps and services, there’s no way to sign up for an early-release program for WhatsApp.
However, you can check out Beta Updater for WhatsApp. The free app will make sure you’re always running the latest beta release of WhatsApp. Warning: Beta release are often unstable, behave in unexpected ways, and prone to crashing.
Download: Beta Updater for WhatsApp (Free)
4. Yalp Store
If you’ve used Android for a while, you are likely familiar with the concept of sideloading apps. In simple terms, this refers to installing an app on your device manually, without using the Google Play Store.
Understanding how to sideload apps is also an essential part of owning an Android TV or Amazon Fire TV device. Both platforms have smaller native app stores than their mobile counterparts, but can run any Android app with a bit of tweaking.
To sideload an app, you need its APK file. Unfortunately, APK files aren’t natively available on the Play Store (though there are a few third-party sites where you can download APK files).
Yalp Store solves the issue of the lack of APK files on Google Play. With just a few exceptions, it will let you download the APK of any app directly from the store.
Yalp is also a great way to download Google Play Store apps without using a Google Account. It uses a built-in account to connect; you don’t need your own credentials.
Download: Yalp Store (Free)
5. /r/Android App Store
The subreddit /r/Android maintains a wiki of Android apps. It covers both community-recommended apps and apps from developers who want to spread the word about their creations. There are several hundred apps on the list.
The /r/Android App Store on F-Droid offers an easy way to browse and download all the apps in the wiki. You’ll find both paid and free apps in /r/Android App Store, but the app itself is free to download and use.
Download: /r/Android App Store (Free)
NewPipe is an alternative front end for YouTube. It’s lightweight and boasts a number of feature improvements over the official app. These include background videos, a popup video player, local playlists, and importable/exportable subscription lists.
NewPipe is also much more privacy-orientated than YouTube. It doesn’t use proprietary Google APIs, saves all your data offline, and gives you control over what data it collects.
Lastly, it lets you download MP3 and MP4 versions of YouTube videos. You can set your own filenames and resolution.
Download: NewPipe (Free)
7. Chromium SWE Updater
Chromium is a Google-created open source spin-off of the Chrome web browser. Because it’s open source, other people can fork the app and customize it in their own way.
One group—Code Aurora Forum—has forked Chromium to create Chromium SWE. It’s specifically optimized for devices that have Qualcomm Snapdragon chips. However, the browser does not come with a built-in updater. Instead, users have to remember to manually check and install updates on a regular basis.
Given the importance of always running the latest version of your apps, it’s not ideal. Thankfully, the arrival of Chromium SWE Updater in the F-Droid store has solved the issue. It automatically updates the Chromium SWE build to make sure you’re always on the latest version.
Download: Chromium SWE Updater (Free)
If you enjoy manga, Tachiyomi is a must-have app. It lets you download content from many sources, including Batoto, KissManga, and MangaFox, and read it all in one place.
Tachiyomi’s reader is impressive. It has multiple views, switchable reading directions, and both light and dark themes. You can also schedule updates so you always have the latest material at your fingertips. It even supports your reading lists on MyAnimeList, AniList, and Kitsu.
We covered some of the best ways to read manga for free if you’d like even more content.
Download: Tachiyomi (Free)
SimpleRT should be your go-to app if you want to share your computer’s internet connection with your Android device via USB. Unlike some other reverse tethering apps, it does not require root access.
The app supports multi-tether (meaning you can combine several tethered Android devices into a single virtual network) and allows you to set custom DNS servers. On Android, SimpleRT runs as a service; there’s no user interface.
The service is fully compatible with Linux and macOS, while the Windows version is still in beta.
Download: SimpleRT (Free)
We’ll leave you with another YouTube alternative app.
WebTube is not as full-featured as NewPipe; you cannot use it to download videos. However, if you just want to watch videos, it’s a fast and lightweight option. Like NewPipe, the app has a strong focus on privacy. It will not use nor access the proprietary YouTube API, nor does it need to use any Google Play Services.
Download: WebTube (Free)
Download More Android Apps
The F-Droid app store is an excellent way of finding unusual apps that you won’t find in the Google Play Store.
However, there are plenty of apps you probably haven’t heard of that are already in the Play Store. To learn about some of them, read our lists of unknown Google apps and clever apps that’ll change the way you use Android.