9 Privacy-Friendly Android Apps You Should Be Using
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These days, you can find an Android app for just about anything. Want to know what the weather will be like The 7 Best Free Weather Apps for Android The 7 Best Free Weather Apps for Android These free weather apps will help you stay on top of the weather with your Android device. Read More next week? No problem. Need to explore your device’s file system The 7 Best Free File Explorers for Android The 7 Best Free File Explorers for Android There are a bunch of file management and file exploring apps out there for Android, but these are the best. Read More ? It’s easy. Dying to waste a few hours playing high-quality games 10 Best Free Android Games of the Year 10 Best Free Android Games of the Year Did you miss out on an Android game that you should be playing? Our end-of-year roundup is a handy checklist to know what your thumbs should be tapping on. Read More ? There are thousands to choose from.

But the app-for-everything nature of the store does have a notable downside: privacy. Honestly, how many of you research an app’s stance on privacy and security before you install it?

The result of our collective laissez-faire approach to software installation is a growing number of apps that are a privacy nightmare. We’ve covered some of the worst offenders Do Not Install These 10 Popular Android Apps Do Not Install These 10 Popular Android Apps These Android apps are extremely popular, but they also compromise your security and privacy. If you have them installed, you'll want to uninstall them after reading this. Read More elsewhere on the site.

So, now it’s time to look at the Google Play Store from the other side of the fence. What are the most privacy-friendly Android apps? Let’s take a look.

1. Keyboard: AnySoftKeyboard

If you’re a keen observer, you might have noticed that your default Android keyboard may occasionally use your Wi-Fi connection and “phone home.” Clearly, such behavior is not desirable.

AnySoftKeyboard is an open-source keyboard app that doesn’t ask for any internet permissions. The only other open-source keyboard worth considering is Hacker’s Keyboard, but it’s not as feature-rich as AnySoftKeyboard.

privacy-friendly android apps

The app supports multiple languages, has swipe-to-type functionality, offers predictive text, voice input, numerous themes, and much more.

Download: AnySoftKeyboard (Free)

2. Browser: DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo needs no introduction. It’s one of the most well-known privacy-friendly search engines in the world. The Android version of the app is a browser that can only run the DuckDuckGo search engine.

The app doesn’t use cookies to track you around the web, it doesn’t collect any personal information, doesn’t log your searches, and automatically hides your IP address from sites you visit.

The downside of DuckDuckGo is only noticeable when you’re running obscure searches. Google will perform better. As a solution, use StartPage Private Search. It lets you search privately on Google and Bing.

Download: DuckDuckGo (Free)

3. Instant Messenger: Telegram

Telegram is one of many WhatsApp alternatives 4 Slick WhatsApp Alternatives that Guard Your Privacy 4 Slick WhatsApp Alternatives that Guard Your Privacy Facebook bought WhatsApp. Now that we're over the shock of that news, are you worried about your data privacy? Read More . Sure, WhatsApp uses encrypted chat, but it’s owned by Facebook — and we all know that privacy isn’t a strong point of Zuckerberg’s company The Complete Facebook Privacy Guide The Complete Facebook Privacy Guide Privacy on Facebook is a complex beast. Many important settings are hidden out of sight. Here's a complete look at every Facebook privacy setting you need to know about. Read More .

Telegram, on the other hand, is not owned by a social media behemoth. It’s quickly gained traction, picking up more than 100 million active users in just two and a half years.

The app uses a combination of 256-bit symmetric AES encryption, 2048-bit RSA encryption, and Diffie-Hellman secure key exchange to keep your messages secure.

privacy-friendly android apps

It’s also faster than WhatsApp. It uses a distributed network of data centers around the planet to get your message to its intended recipient in mere nanoseconds.

The final unique feature is synced typing. You can start a message on your phone and finish it on your computer.

Download: Telegram (Free)

4. App Store: F-Droid

The Google Play Store is a disaster for privacy-conscious users. Google knows exactly what you’ve installed, which device you installed it on, where you were when you installed it, which link or website led you to the app’s installation page, how often you update your apps, and a whole lot more.

privacy-friendly android apps

For a more private app store, check out F-Droid. It doesn’t track you or your device, you don’t need an account to download apps, and any apps that track you are hidden from the store by default. You can go to Preferences > AntiFeatures > Tracking to enable them.

Best of all, the apps in the F-Droid store are open source. If you’re a talented programmer, you can check the source code of all the apps yourself and make sure they’re not leaking your personal data.

The downside of the app store is that you won’t find the mainstream apps you probably use every day.

Download: F-Droid (Free)

5. Calendar: Simple Calendar

Designed by Simple Mobile Tools, a project dedicated to releasing privacy-friendly apps, Simple Calendar is a worthy rival to the stock Android calendar app.

privacy-friendly android apps

The app is ad-free and only requests the absolute minimum number of permissions in order to function. By default, the permissions include access to your photos and contacts, but that’s only to allow the app to function more effectively. You can disable the permissions and the app’s core functions will still work.

Download: Simple Calendar (Free)

6. Fitness App: Pedometer

Fitness apps are another category that often send data back to the parent company. Typically, the data includes GPS locations, journeys you took, and even personal data you entered into the app like height, weight, and gender.

If you’re looking for a privacy-friendly fitness tracker, check out Pedometer. Developed by the SECUSO privacy research group at Technische Universität Darmstadt, the app only needs two permissions: Run at startup, and prevent phone from sleeping. The app is also entirely ad-free.

privacy-friendly android apps

The app counts your daily steps and the number of calories you burned. All the data is displayed on beautiful and easy-to-understand charts. You can even customize different walking modes to suit your style.

Download: Pedometer (Free)

7. Weather: Weather

The unimaginatively-named Weather is another app from the Technische Universität Darmstadt.

Using the data from OpenWeatherMap, the app shows the current temperature as well as a three-hour and five-day forecast.

privacy-friendly android apps

You can save locations, but you can also make them “non-permanent.” This means they will be deleted as soon as you leave the location’s weather data. There will be no evidence of the search within the app.

Feature-wise, the app provides a useful Radius Search. You can use it to find the best conditions within a set distance from a given location.

Download: Weather (Free)

8. File Manager: OI File Manager

OI File Manager is one of the most full-featured and easy-to-use file managers in the Google Play Store. Most importantly, it’s also one of the most privacy-friendly. The app is ad-free and does not require the internet access permission.

The app is also open source. You can check all the code before installing it to make sure there are no data leaks.

OI File Manager lets you create directories, rename, copy, move, and delete files. You can also browse removable storage. Finally, the app adds an extension to the Open With and Save menu items.

Download: OI File Manager (Free)

9. Game: Memo

Memo takes a leaf out of the once-popular brain training games Is Lumosity a Lie? The Neuroscience Behind Brain Training Games Is Lumosity a Lie? The Neuroscience Behind Brain Training Games Brain training games promise to improve your memory, prevent cognitive losses and decrease your chances of showing symptoms of dementia – are their promises too good to be true? Read More .

The premise is simple — you need to find identical cards by turning them over in pairs. It’s a test of patience and memory. You can even use your own images rather than the typical four suits. The game offers three difficulty levels: a 4×4 board, a 6×6 board, and an 8×8 board.

privacy-friendly android apps

So, what makes the app unique? Well, it doesn’t require any permissions. Zero. The developer ran a comparison with other similar games in the Google Play Store. In the top 10 apps, the average number of permissions required was 3.9 per app.

Download: Memo (Free)

Which Privacy-Friendly Apps Do You Use?

In this article, we’ve introduced you to nine awesome privacy friendly apps. The apps we’ve discussed cover some of the most popular categories.

Which privacy-friendly apps do you use on a regular basis? And which apps do you avoid? As always, you can leave your tips and suggestions in the comments section below.

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  1. This Guyyy
    June 10, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    Signal for texting, talking, and other media. ProtonMail for email, ProtonVPN to secure connections. 2FA or Authy to make sure everything is me logging in.

  2. Someone
    February 11, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    Telegram?

    No. Just no!

    There are so many reasons not to use Telegram but the most significant is the fact that the source code is propriety and has not been audited.

    It was designed by two mathematicians claiming to do crypto as well, if not better, than everyone else but actually have no crypto experience themselves.

    The first rule of crypto is that you never roll your own.

    The second rule is that you make use of established standards that have been vetted by everyone who knows what they are doing.

    The same goes for Wire.

    There are plenty of analyses on the Web that will explan why neither Telegram nor Wire is a suitable option - at least not *yet* anyway.

    If you want an alternative that has the necessary cred (Moxie Marilinspike/Open Whisper Systems) and audited because it's OSS then you go for 'Signal' - What'sApp actually uses the Signal protocol itself for the crypto, so you might as well go direct to the source.

    I cant comment about Threema, but I've repeatedly investigated all the offerings over the years and havent found any reason to trust anything but 'Signal' yet, so there'll be a good reason why I do not use it either - just do a search on "threema + criticism" and you'll be sure to find out why.

    If you're looking for simple apps, the Play Store hosts the 'Privacy Friendly' range.

    Personally, I like to ensure maximum privacy and would recommend 'My Local Account' (FJ Softwaredevelopment) and 'Offline Calendar' (Privacy Apps) for those who don't want that data to leave their phone - those who are concerned about losing it can always use 'SyncThing' to export it to their own cloud service.

  3. Joseph Pollock
    January 3, 2018 at 6:55 am

    I looked for PIM applications and email clients that encrypt their data so all the other permission happy apps have nothing to see. I thought it was a no-brainer, but found nothing.

    I haven't paid for any apps yet, but I would sure buy those! Somebody make them and make some money!

  4. DroidTheft
    December 26, 2017 at 12:55 am

    More articles like this would be great. It's really getting difficult to find apps that fulfil basic functions that don't require near-root access to your phone. Personally I detest Android and it's clones - like Windows 10 because of their default steal everything approach to user privacy.

    I would add, that the quality of the content on MUO has improved greatly over the last year, or two and I'm almost tempted to whitelist you on my ad-blocker! Keep it up, thx.

  5. jake
    December 23, 2017 at 12:43 am

    Instead of Telegram, I like Wire. I recall testing telegram a year or so ago... it not only captured my contacts but found that one of my contacts was also using telegram. It provided me that info AND also made sure that contact also knew I was running telegram.

    Honestly... I don't know how an app can sell it's security features while completely dismissing the privacy aspects. I lost all trust in their security model at that point.

    When I tried Wire, it not only asked for permissions to gain access to my contacts, it ran perfectly well without access to them. Also... Wire doesn't even need a telephone number to function. I have it running on multiple, alternate Desktop and Mobile OSes without issue.

    • Victor
      December 23, 2017 at 5:21 pm

      Only Threema.

  6. Hildy J
    December 22, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    Simon Tathams Puzzles - 30+ logic puzzles, free and open source, no internet or other odd permissions, all puzzles internally generated, playable offline, each puzzle can be customized for format and difficulty.

    This is an Android port of Simon's original puzzle collection. There are ports to other OSs available on the original puzzle page.

    Note that some puzzles have a different name due to (I would guess) copyright restrictions - e.g. Sudoku is named Solo.