See https://twitter.com/LukasStefanko/status/1036595679316140032 and https://twitter.com/LukasStefanko/status/1037219072633659392
This is not my problem, really. It is Google's public image as I seen it soulless support for last 10 years, and stories like this pop up time to time. Too sad they pretty much locked in Android app market, and with every version it is harder and harder to sideload apps. I am not using any Google cloud services if I can find alternative.
I understand that it may be my perception, but I do not understand why company would build such image of itself.
If your desire is to build a mobile app, you don't really have a lot of options.
An app store is really many things. It's client software for installing apps, it's a service for verifying apps, it's a hosting service for apps, it's a payment processor.
If you want to replace any piece of it you currently have to replace the whole thing, and do so all at once. Even if you create a good alternative app store, it has few apps in it, which matters if it's a separate client/interface than the main one. And you have to replicate every piece of it well for it to be any good.
So what's needed is better modularity. You don't have an "Amazon app store app", you just have a "software installer" app that shows all apps from enabled providers and then lists individual apps as "verified by Google", "verified by Amazon", etc. in the same software. When you buy one you get a list of enabled payment processors and choose "pay with Google" or "pay with Paypal" or "pay with Visa" etc. (the list being all the ones that the app developer accepts).
Then you can put your app in Google Play and let them do everything, or you can host it yourself and pay a verification service that charges a one time fee rather than a percentage and accept five different payment services but only the ones that charge less than a 5% commission, and either way it's not a significantly different experience for the user.
And whether or not Google would join in on something like that, at least Amazon/Samsung/F-Droid could do it with each other (and anyone else who shows up).
And if you are using Google's identity system—in what way are you not just back to publishing on the Play Store? Through the identity system (and associated developer-reputation system) they can control who can or cannot publish on your app store. So it's really just their app store. It's your UX, but it's their guiding hand, just as if Google were on your board of directors.
Really, there's no point in them letting you have your own app store which relies on parts of their infrastructure, since they can tell that any implementation their legal dept would okay is a lose-lose that no dev would ever be interested in taking part in. To detach any liability for the results from them, you have to do it all the app-store stuff yourself. Which is exactly what mobile OEMs do.
Amazon doesn't require you to use their payment system with your customers to host your app on AWS. Paypal doesn't require you to host your apps with them to use their payment system. Mozilla doesn't try to stop you from using Firefox, or the Firefox-based Tor browser, to visit arbitrary "dark web" sites, and Debian doesn't try to stop you from adding arbitrary third party repositories to apt. Let's Encrypt doesn't even require you to use their own software to verify your site. This concept of "you can't just sell someone a screw driver because what if they kill someone and you were liable" has no basis.
Google could refuse your business for an individual component if you tried to use that component from them, but then you could just get that component from someone else. It would still be an advantage to be able to use one service for hosting and another for payments, even if zero of those services are Google.
And the problem with Google Play is the weak competition. If it was easier to use something else then they would lose more business from making poor refusal decisions (harming their reputation), by charging a high percentage, etc. Then they would either have to improve or lose their status as the dominant player. Reduced barriers, more competition.
The proposal was to host your own app store which doesn't rely on their infrastructure.
Consider disabling the apps; if the manufacturer doesn't allow disabling the app through Settings, you can always do it via adb. When you disable the app, the system will ignore it and behave as if it wouldn't be there. You can't get any additional benefit from the deleting, you won't gain any additional free space, as no app can write to /system partition for the above reason anyway.
It depends on what you mean by "side channel". You can do a PWA instead, or use tools like Test Flight (up to 10,000 users), or leverage the Apple Developer Enterprise Program, etc.
Epic Games. https://techcrunch.com/2018/09/07/fortnite-hits-15-million-i...
Do you mean being able to click a link on the app author's website and press "allow" makes you an elite sort of geek?
Once it's been added, it can't be removed.
They claim it's for auditing purposes, but those "auditing purposes" shouldn't require keeping it attached to the account as an active payment method (which is what they enforce).
I think Google lost trust, which is hard thing to get back. I just speaking how I feel. And I don't get such feel using AWS.
Isn't Apple scarier? They can block your app for particular country and if they do there is no way around.
> and with every version it is harder and harder to sideload apps
How is it hard to click a link on an app author's website and press "allow"?
And there also is F-Droid.
Google is by orders of magnitude better than Apple in this way.
When publishing a new release on the Google Play Console, you need to create a video showing how the permissions are granted as well as the functionality that uses the permissions, making it clear that this functionality is a part of the core functionality of the app. After that, they approved it pretty quickly.
You have to take into account that the Google reps that approve or reject the apps don't spend much time checking if the app is compliant, so if they don't see this evidence in the video, the app won't be approved.
I spent the better part of 2 hours just to get everything up and running again and it's frustrating to know that you cannot easily contact anyone @ Google to ask for help.
Holy cow I had the same issue. Ended up having to just make a brand new one with a new name. It was a horrible experience.
A version on a beta channel had SMS permissions requested, but there was no way to get rid of it. You can never just delete a version of something, only replace it. But you couldn't 'replace' until you'd 'fixed' the problem of the SMS perms.
What they were asking for was a description of the fix, a login/password to view the fix, a video of the old and fixed versions in action and some checkboxes stating that I accepted the new SMS policy. Except... the existing versions didn't have any SMS functionality in the first place. There was no way to 'video' a fix for a problem that never existed.
But it was worse, and I forget exactly how. I could never get it to accept a new uploaded version because an existing version somewhere wasn't 'fixed'. I think this was part of it. There was a 'beta' channel version, and regular channel version, and each one wouldn't accept an update of a new version because there was still a 'broken' version on the account somewhere.
Truly a horrible experience.
I ended up fixing it eventually by somehow clearing all versions in alpha/beta channels and uploading a new fixed version without the SMS permission with increased version number multiple times, and then bubbling that up to production.
For reference, we only used READ SMS permission in this app to improve the phone number validation process so it was easy to remove, with the downside that now it is harder for our users (mostly over 45) because they have to switch to the SMS app and back to complete the validation. Our helpdesk has seen an increase in support calls about the validation process since then.
we only used READ SMS permission in this app
to improve the phone number validation process
Remember how crazy it was back when "flashlight" was an app on your phone that you had to give the "camera" permission to this random crappy app because the lamp is built into the camera and so that's the permission needed?
The same is true for so many features in so many apps, why does this app say it needs permission to _make phone calls_ when it's actually just measuring 3G signal strength? Why does this other one want to "read and write files" when actually it just wants somewhere to store a 40 byte ID?
In some cases the answer is Android / iOS didn't create the right permissions to reflect what's actually needed. But in plenty of others the problem is app developers don't use what is offered because they found a "simple" way (often pasted from a 5 year old Stack Overflow answer) to achieve what they wanted.
This is completely normal for anything with Google.
There's too many videos for a manual process, so Youtube has to rely on algorithms and that's always going to be a broad brush.
Better/faster app store app.
Better warnings about undesirable app behavior.
Better quality apps in the store.
And no nag screen for billing info every time I download a free app.
This seems to be a general trend in software, and perhaps life in general: an abusive, lower quality default option for those not "in the know", and better alternatives for anyone who is savvy or has a savvy friend.
I’m guessing the “average” person wouldn’t be too happy about losing the Play Store since proprietary apps aren’t available in F-Droid (by design).
But if that average person want to remove Play Store (and Play Services blobs) completely from his devices, he still can use and update the most of his apps using Yalp. https://f-droid.org/en/packages/com.github.yeriomin.yalpstor...
I have been making it a "soft transition", where I don't waste my time trying to remove PS, just look in FD for anything I need.
This will help.
This stay true even for the games, although some functions like in-game purchases and 'social' things may not work.
Some may even consider that a feature.
Works fine for me.
I'm using all of the above except AdAway and:
- Orgzly: Org-mode brought to your phone. I use it for capturing TODOs and push notifications for reminders.
- Revolution IRC: IRC Client
- Syncthing: Syncs files between my computer and phone. Mostly used for .org files
- Goodtime: Pomodoro technique time-management
- Loop Habit Tracker: Track habits (reading, exercise, etc.)
- Slide for Reddit: Reddit client
- Blockada - VPN-style ad blocker
- Drum On! - Drum machine
- Firefox Klar - Small privacy-focused browser
- RedReader - Reddit client
- Shattered Pixel Dungeon - Roguelike dungeon crawler game
- Tuner - Guitar and instrument tuner
Edit: Looks like it is actually available on the Play store and not an F-Droid exclusive.
- AFWall+ (firewall, useful to block traffic to limit mobile data usage when I still need to enable it)
- Amaze (File Manager)
- AndIodine (Iodine client, use internet through wifi guarded by captive portals that still let DNS queries pass)
- Barcode Scanner (scan QR and bar codes, share things through QR codes)
- Clementine Remote (control the Clementine music player)
- Draw (to write scores when playing games)
- Easy xkcd, Simple Dilbert for comics
- E numbers, OpenFoodFacts (to know what you eat)
- Clip Stack, a Clipboard manager
- DAVx⁵ (formerly DAVDroid), to synchronize contacts and calendars with a Nextcloud instance (or any CardDav / CalDav provider)
- ForceDoze (to force the phone to really sleep when the screen is off)
- Drowser (to kill chosen running apps when the screen goes off)
- Document Viewer and PDF Viewer Plus to display PDFs. The former seems to segfault quite frequently but is nice when it works.
- Fennec or Icecat (Firefox Mobile)
- ForRunners (to keep track of running sessions, offline)
- LogCat Reader (to show Android's debugging log)
- LibreOffice Viewer (useful when people send office documents by mail) - K-9 Mail (Mail client)
- Maps and OsmAnd (for Offline GPS), OpenVegeMap (helps finding places where to eat)
- NextCloud (access files from a NextCloud instance, auto upload pictures)
- OpenCamera, a nice application for taking pictures. Works better than Lineage's stock app on my phone.
- oandbackup: backup data and applications.
- QKSMS: a really nice SMS app that is able to synchronize with the default Android SMS app, which is important for me for backups
- Riot.im (not using it at the moment though)
- Red Moon, which I use to make the screen even darker (and it works well with an AMOLED screen). I don't actually use it to filter blue light.
- SMS Backup +: to backup SMS and call logs to an IMAP account. I also copy files from /data/user_de/0/com.android.providers.telephony/ for that, which provide a perfect backup, MMSes included.
- SatStat (to debug GPS, and show a compass)
- Sky Map, to see the stars and constellations.
- Sound Recorder
- Termux: provides a GNU/Linux like environment, and a great terminal emulator which can be used with a real GNU/Linux distribution installed in a Chroot or from SSH.
- UnicodePad (look for unicode characters / emojis)
- VLC (a good music and video player)
- 2048, Open Flood, PipePanic (games), DroidFish (chess)
XServer XSDL is a good free X11 server for Android that is unfortunately not in F-Droid but now there is an X server in F-Droid (which seems to have less features).
Etar looks like a good calendar app. I've come across Wi-Fi Reminders, which can be used to display notes when connecting to a particular Wi-Fi, which seems nice and useful. There are apps to avoid leaks when using Wi-Fi. And also notes / tasks apps that I don't use regularly.
TrebleShot looks nice to exchange files between devices.
[edit : added oandbackup]
- FreeOTP+ for 2FA
- Wireguard for use with Mullvad VPN
- AnkiDroid flashcards
- AntennaPod for podcasts
- Telegram for messaging
- Twidere twitter client
Plus a few already noted above.
If it were not for Ankidroid, I would be satisfied with a dumb phone.
I didn't know Sky Map is a former Google app!
Most apps on my list are probably on the Play Store indeed :-)
I personally decided that it is easier to integrate a Google competitor to Flutter than to actually contact a human at Google, but I’ve nightmares about Google acquiring whichever advertising provider I integrate.
Managers, theoretically from the top down, are deciding how to allocate resources (as in, almost no live customer service people), what automated policies to put in, etc.
I think there's a fundamental problem with any company that refuses to provide some human contact for problem resolution (with customers, partners, vendors, etc.)
Also, after 20+ years in business, google engineers are still highly respected and sought after by every company for their tech expertise. If google didn't hire the best, that luster would have faded a long time ago.
Google has always been great at tech and poor at customer service. Though that seems to be a industry wide problem, rather than a google specific one.
certainly not sought after by my company, and i hate to speak for others, but i can name at least a handful of others where having any of the FANGs will usually get your resume circular filed. :x
At the scale they operate been one developer amongst tens of thousands on it's own isn't a good metric.
I'm not at all surprised that an organization that prides itself on elite engineering above all else falls down hard in other areas and doesn't even recognize how much of a problem it is. (Though, to be fair, Google Express, IME, has had superlative customer service, so it's not that Google can't do customer service.)
They author of this post didn't take his app and make it Apple exclusive. He removed the feature that was flagged and re-uploaded it. How much money did Google lose on that ("I'm going to buy an iPhone to protest this!")? $0. So again, spending $0 on support seems about right.
If it were an app that mattered, I'm sure they'd find someone to reply. But the app doesn't matter, at least at the scale Google cares about.
I also wonder how they deal with the countries that require a publicly listed phone number and address to be able to contact them.
These large companies do not care about local laws beyond doing the bare mimimum to appear somewhat compliant.
They would have to try hard to be worse than Xbox Live Support. Customer service is dead for most consumer electronics.
This comment is a great example on the effectiveness of spreading unsubstantiated FUD.
Last discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17115643
Google response: https://www.reddit.com/r/google/comments/8l231x/google_banne...
> The original poster on Reddit (OP) did not identify him/herself or the customer account. We have made several attempts to reach out to the OP through PM, but have yet to receive a response. (If the OP or someone from his/her company is reading this, please get in touch with me. We have tried to identify the customer based on the information in the original post, including an extensive review of recent support cases, but have not found any cases resembling the description.
My next device needs to be something I can easily run Plasma on. Maybe I'll pre-order a Purism phone. I want a real open source phone, similar to running a Linux distro on my PC in the late 90s.
I'm willing to write applications to fill in the gaps for my needs to get away from the toxic Google ecosystem. I want a phone with real open source software, not some crippled Android minus the Play store.
How does Android and cracked hardware fit together? No such thing as android hardware. Just buy a better one next time.
>I want a real open source phone
Purism isn't "real open source". Lots of locked down proprietary binary blobs in it and no way to no use them (modem for one). If you want it because of FOSS installing Ubuntu or LineageOS on any other phone would be just as good and no need to pay someone to do it.
Could you cite this, please?
With regard to the modem, its inner workings may be opaque, but it is isolated from the system and communicates over a bus (whereas ordinarily the modem on a mobile phone uses shared memory), which is what security-conscious open phone enthusiasts have been waiting years for. What other phone will give that to you?
Samsung Exynos variants - starlte, herolte, etc.
I was in the same boat as the grandparent. I ended up getting a cheap phone that I could put lineageOS on, I installed F-Droid, and I didn't install any of Googles Apps. Its working out very well actually.
I know HMD isn't the original Nokia (though it has a lot of the management) but it's an excellent phone and with AndroidOne you get security updates immediately which was a big thing I wanted after Moto-G's
Sure, I'm on KDE desktop (have been since the late 1990's) so I'm aware I'm in the (tiny) minority, but the functionality is hard, perhaps impossible, to beat.
This kind of craziness isn't helping anyone.
Someone senior needs to step in and fix this, it's utterly toxic for developer relations. The process is unreliable and doesn't work, and bluntly this sort of whitelisting of APIs for people "we think really need it" is a bad idea in the first place.
Anything that is behind such a whitelist should be a userland permission, approved (or not) by the end user, not Google.
You’re assuming that Google’s desire here is to protect the user. I don’t think that’s the case: I think that their desire is to control the user. Cf. how Android presents the user with a warning if he installs his own trusted HTTPS certificate (and how newer version of Android simply ignore his trusted certificate): Google claim that they are simply concerned about naïve users, but my contention is that they are motivated by a desire to prevent users from viewing the traffic of Google apps.
Google Play is the app store for most android users (at least in the west).
As an aside, there must be a better way to keep track of new technologies. I hate not recognizing something important.
Since then I've head that the F-Droid operators insist on signing all apps themselves, instead of the developers' signature. That's as bad as the TLS inteceptors that insist on accepting an extra CA.
Some people seem to think that F-Droid is obviously preferable to Googleplay. That is, at the very least, not obvious.
BTW. In my case the app they urged me to replace the stock keyboard with a version that had been built without support for Norwegian. Is the language data in Android non-free?
Most apps aren’t possible to be built reproducibly, though, as the Android developer toolkit was never designed for reproducible builds and relies on stuff like filesystem ordering of files (which differs between machines).
Reproducible builds are the best option for such a store :)
They do reproducible builds starting from publicly available source. Given the AOSP design where code signatures are mandatory and updates are only allowed if signed by the same key, they're taking the best feasible approach.
F-Droid can't replace a version installed form GPlay with it's own version as they are (except a handful) signed with a different key.
It also won't even show you these versions anymore unless you enable an expert settings options.
Even once you've installed it, it can't auto-update apps.
Installing F-Droid is easy, and installing and managing apps through it is also easy. I prefer it when I can find a suitable app.
but nevertheless harder than installing Netflix
> installing and managing apps through it is also easy
but updates are not automatic (unless you root)
I don't dispute that F-Droid is not terribly difficult to use, but the original statement that "It's easier to use than the Play Store" is obviously false as soon as you take into account the mechanics of getting it installed.
Even if 2) does not require rooting your device or voiding warranty it's 1) that damps on the spread of the alternatives, because people in general don't know they have a choice; because they don't look for the alternative as the problem of "how do I get the apps?" is solved for them right at the start.
Amazon tablets do not have the Google Play store.
That being said, Amazon Fire tablets are good cheap devices if you want to experiment with custom ROMs and truly Free app stores like F-Droid without spending a lot of money or sacrificing your main device. Just don't trust FireOS to be any less privacy invasive than Google's Android.
There are Lollipop based ROMs for all 2017 and older Fire tablets (Amazon's FireOS is based on Lollipop so it's an easy base to start from) and there is work in progress to port Oreo to the 2017 Fire tablets:
Context is not hard people. Don't nit because you can.
But I use some apps that are non-free and are perfectly fine with those apps being non-free and want to use these apps anyway. So f-droid will never be a full replacement for me.
Afaik there's no readily available payment system. It's not impossible to build one and integrate it with F-Droid though I think.
They could have a permissions UI with red/yellow/green indicators for privacy risk or similar, and let users choose. I want Lightflow and KDE Connect to have access. Why is that so hard to understand?
Oh wait, they do. They're just intentionally crippling their product.
> I'm about to upload a version of KDE Connect to the Play Store with the SMS functionality removed.
Google removes app from the app store until you upload new version.
Not sure if you know, but for KDE Connect SMS access is part of core functionality, allowed use of the API, and author wanted to call explain it as written in  but there is nowhere to call.
It's all in a thread.
According to https://support.google.com/googleplay/android-developer/answ... an allowed use of the API is "connected device companion apps that enable sending and receiving of SMS or calls".
Did KDE Connect allow sending and receiving SMS from your PC? The only thing I see in the app description is getting "notifications for incoming calls and SMS messages", which might have been insufficient.
This was actually one of the more recent features they were working on, afaik, yes.
2) They are, hence the removal of functionality and re-upload
>Which seems to be false