Can all apps be FOSS on Play Store?

A bit of reflection on the Android community, some questions. Can we make powerful apps FOSS, available to everyone, what implications does that bring in an app store managed by Google? And other related thoughts

Yeah I am still talking about the Android ecosystem, I have a few thoughts about it that sparked this morning.

So, back when I started caring about Android, I remember how different the “Power user” community was (at least the one I was exposed to on Youtube videos). I remember watching those old videos of “Best android browsers”, “Best music players”, “Best twitter clients” and so on, and learning about apps such as the old Dolphin Browser, Rocket Player, Fenix and others.

I also remember channels all around Youtube recommending apps such as Aptoide to get pirated software or provide links to them (I am glad this is not that big of a thing anymore, but I can’t say I did not benefit from this a few times).

I have seen that the Android community has been pretty accepting of non-FOSS applications. When it comes to customization, we still welcome Icon packs, KWGT, the now dead Zooper Widgets and other apps.

Not only when it comes to customization. Root apps too!, I still remember when Titanium Backup was the gold standard (even just months ago, when it got banned, the community rised up to bring it back), same thing with Lucky Patcher, and even Tasker, the most powerful automation tool available for Android , all of these are NOT free software!

Even today, the Android community is still willing to accept apps such as Bouncer, Naptime and others that are still being developed and could be dangerous if it wasn’t because of the developer’s reputation.

Does FOSS have a place in the Google Play Store?

Recently I have seen more and more awareness towards FOSS, and I have seen more people defending small independent devs and paying for their work. But I have some controversial opinions about it.

I really don’t think that apps like Tasker, Typing Hero or Bouncer should become open source. Not in an ecosystem that barely controls what apps get added to the Play Store.

If you go right now to the store, and search for “Gallery”, you will find quite a lot of Simple Gallery based clones, that don’t even change anything about the source code, besides the icons, and only bother adding advertisement and other things that we can’t even see because those clones don’t comply with the license by not showing their source code.

Despite the license, there will always be people who will simply not care. And will look to make money out of the work of others.

The worst thing about it, is that I remember seeing some posts on r/androidapps asking to report those copycats, and you could still find a couple of comments not caring at all about the situation, paraphrasing “It is open source, what did you expect?”.

So, yeah, most of this adware is going to be allowed on the Play Store, and if apps such as Tasker become open source, people with bad intentions will be able to take advantage of it, and who knows what kind of terrible things will happen.

This is not the fault of those apps, of course, this happens because the Play Store is flawed by design. So yeah, unless that changes, I don’t think that making such powerful apps FOSS will be a good thing, at least right now.

This was day 16 of #100DaystoOffload.


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