Semi-official app with F-Droid name in Google Play

One problem F-Droid has is that people frequently seach Google Play to find F-Droid. Of course, F-Droid is not in Google Play for two reasons: 1) F-Droid does not support proprietary software like Play, 2) Google does not allow app stores in Play. So we know that the chances of F-Droid being in Play at any point in the future are basically nil.

The problem is that F-Droid is a popular enough search term in Google Play that scammers upload apps with the F-Droid name there. There is no F-Droid app there, so its easy to be at the top of the search results.

I propose that willing contributors submit free software apps to Play that can carry the F-Droid name, and therefore guide users to the real F-Droid. I think @uniqx’s forum reader app is a perfect option. I think it can be branded as “F-Droid Forum Reader” or something like that. And as long as all the core contributors are OK with that, then it can carry the F-Droid name without being an official F-Droid app.

Any objections to the idea? Or feedback on which app(s) should go into Play?

Another idea would be to make an app like “Swap with F-Droid” that is just the Nearby/Swap part of fdroidclient. That is allowed under Google Play Terms of Service. This could be a Guardian Project app, since there is already a presense in Play.

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They (play store) still have “app managers” like com .lb .app_manager or mobile .appmanager

or installers, com .apkinstaller .ApkInstaller

or downloaders, org .zloy .android .downloader

So why not a F-Droid introduction and howto, with a click-to-download-and-install function?

Have a no-cost and a 1+ pound premium version too.

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What about publishing the apk-standalone versoin of https://f-droid.org/en/2020/05/29/android-updates-and-tls-connections.html from @ByteHamster with F-Droid Brand ?

@justsomeguy: I am not shure if google tolerates a " with a click-to-download-and-install function"

They tolerate browsers (and mentioned app downloaders), and browsers have that function, without using those words.

Hmm I don’t think this is a good fit for Google Play. It’s an app without UI, just a “library” function. Something like this on Google Play will likely get tons of bad ratings by users who don’t understand what the app is made for.

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an “F-Droid installer” app would likely be banned, from what I’ve seen.
I think the app should provide useful functionality, not just be a
placeholder

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Then, I guess the idea would be to create a sticky post where instructions and information about F-Droid and the client’s installation are presented.

I think it would work well to guide non-technical people who have heard about F-Droid or someone who has told them about it.

Being in the Play Store can give people more trust to install an apk outside of it, anyway I think it would be necessary to have some kind of identity stamp to prevent malicious third parties from cloning the forum.

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Any objections to the idea?

Nope.

Or feedback on which app(s) should go into Play?

I’ve seen quite a lot of comments on Reddit suggesting Fennec F-Droid instead of Firefox to those who didn’t like the new UI of Firefox 79. But we’ve missed the momentum.

Speaking purely from a user perspective, I think (if possible) that the app should be called just “F-Droid”. Something more convoluted (like “F-Droid Forum Reader” ) will make some users suspicious, and make it stand out less from the scam versions.

As for what it should do… maybe it should just be an in-app browser that opens f-droid.org? Or just open that link in the normal browser? I mean the webpage is the best source for information anyway(?).

It should be named based on it’s function, it’s not fdroid…

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That’s fair. I just meant if it would be possible (practically and technically) to make an app with a name as close as possible to F-Droid, then it stands a higher chance of being discovered and downloaded (by the people who attempts to find F-Droid on the Play store), instead of the scam versions. Of course if people actually keep it installed in parallel to the F-Droid app, then having the exactly same name would be impractical if nothing else.

Also I just noticed this topic was about adding multiple apps (plural). So I guess what I said matters even less. I still think something simple and close to “F-Droid” would make sense, like an “F-Droid Info” (just show information about what F-Droid is and how to install it).

Anyway I like the idea of counteracting the scam apps. I didn’t even know they existed (I don’t use the play store).

Maybe offer a stripped down version of fdroidclient with the download/install functionality removed. Call it “F-Droid Directory” (or something), a listing of android open source projects, offering links to either the project’s website or issue tracker. It is still on users to ask themselves “what is F-Droid”, research it, and find out how to install it. I don’t know if this goes far enough to satisfy Google.

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@forrest Yes interresting, if that’s doesn’t trip any wires. :slight_smile:

I’d be happy to see someone make an app like that. Seems like a version
of the Exodus Privacy app. Like an app to look up what F-Droid thinks
about the apps installed on the device.

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That sounds like a great idea!

That’s a good point. I’ve tried to find any concrete information but it’s very unclear, and I’m not lawyer so take what I say with a grain of salt. Since it wouldn’t download/install apps (or link to apk files) maybe it’s ok? It would still be kind of “advertising” an “alternative app store” (by showing the available apps), which might be a problem.

Do anyone know if, say, any Amazon app mentions the Amazon Appstore? Or if some Samsung app mentions the Galaxy Store? I can’t find any app that references an outside app store in this way, so I’m getting worried.

Sorry for going of topic. But @ByteHamster have you turned your ClassLoader POC into an actual app(+library)? If so: Great job! I’ve completely missed it! :slight_smile:

Also, I only now realized that you post became a blog post on f-droid.org (yeah I should have realized it, my bad). I now understand why you wanted feedback on it. Sorry I should have been more helpful. I would have appreciated if you had mentioned me (like a link to this or this). Right now (from an outside perspective) it looks like you are mentioning some work and ideas I’ve done as being by you, which I know was not your intention. It also could prevent more people from having to reinventing the wheel.

Sorry for going off topic. I just get excited about work on this idea (and more apps using conscrypt in general) and I’m really angry at myself for not giving feedback on what became an actual blog post. I hope I didn’t sound aggressive in the last paragraph, I really know it was not intentional. And it’s probably way too late to change.

No, I just compiled and tested it on my device to make sure that it works. Then I only kept the GitHub gist because I do not plan to work on the library myself.

Oh, sorry. Actually, I was pretty sure that I mentioned you. So sure even that I just checked the blog post again to look for your name. Apparently, I only mentioned you in my first forum post about the topic but not in the final blog post. I will create a PR with a text update.

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What about the name “F-Droid app browser” (closer to reality would be “repository” instead of “app” but I think people who never dabbled with Linux have no clue what that would be), which could be lightweight using the standard Android browser/renderer pointing to the F-Droid app repos, perhaps starting with a page that explains that Google’s rules don’t allow to have the real F-Droid store as an app in the play store.

The functionality on top of that explanation (including how to actually install F-Droid of course => click link, open in browser, download apk, install apk, permit installation of third party sources, real installation) could then be the repository browsing: what could people easily get and get updates for semi automatically.

I have nothing new to add, but I’ll post to prevent this topic from closing.

I might as well go on a short tangent…

There’s nothing to apologize for! As I said I know it wasn’t intentional. I didn’t think much about it until I saw it on the main page (out of context of the topic). Thanks for the change. I know it’s a small change but I really appreciate it. Now… lets talk about the whole post looking like you’re presenting what we’ve been discussing as being all from you… And that was a joke! I’m just being a jerk. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: I’m not the first to have had the idea. Anyway, it’s a good summary.

I’m really just concerned with people not having to reinvent the wheel (the antennapod PR and the conscrypt example are both very little code, but the result of lots of experiments/tuning from lack of documentation/examples). I’m going to add your CA solution to the conscrypt bundling example. But I understand why you didn’t link to the example in the post, because it’s not really the point of the post. Also it might be that Conscrypt+Netcipher is a more ideal solution going forward.

Also congratulations on the release of AntennaPod 2.0! They even mentioned it in the latest episode of Late Night Linux.

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