Indie Android Apps One of the best things about Android is that it’s an open platform where anyone can publish an app on the Play Store or even on their own site; anyone and everyone can sideload an APK. Independent app developers can freely experiment with ideas that might not appear on competing platforms like iOS, which is why Android Police has rounded up a handful of quality apps that suit this category, something of a sister article to our best Android apps roundup.
Today’s roundup covers an assortment of unheard-of apps. It includes stuff that isn’t very popular but is infinitely valuable, a mix of niche releases, as well as bigger titles that might not get the attention they deserve (here’s looking at you, Adobe). So if you’re on the hunt for some interesting and unique apps to install on your Android device, you’ve come to the right place. Enjoy!
If you’re looking for a Chromium fork that offers built-in ad-blocking along with privacy enhancements, then Bromite should be on your list. It’s a mobile browser that’s taken the advertising-centric design out of Chrome, and all patches are published under GNU/GPL v3, which means the app is also open-source. Simply put, it’s a de-Googled browser for Android, offering the same layout as Chrome to keep things simple and familiar. Of course, this app isn’t available on the Play Store, though you can find it on its own website and GitHub page.
UpNote – notes, diary, journal
There are tons of note apps available on the Play Store, many of which nobody has ever heard of. While UpNote may not be a household name, it’s an incredibly useful place to keep notes, especially if your household dual-wields Android and iOS. The app seamlessly syncs between Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. It also serves as a perfect place to keep a running diary, and there’s a focus mode that does away with distractions for those times you need to go head down and write a ton.
UpNote is free to use, though it’s limited to 50 notes on free accounts, and syncing works out of the box, which is appreciated. This way, everyone can install the app to take it for a spin to see if it tickles their fancy. If you like what you see, you can subscribe to unlock unlimited note-taking for $0.99 a month, which is about as cheap as a subscription gets.
Snapdrop for Android
Sharing files through Bluetooth or USB can be cumbersome. If you’re looking for a local file-sharing solution that’s a little less unwieldy, Snapdrop is an excellent option that’s flown under the radar since its release in 2021. It’s a free and open-source client, and you can send files between your devices that have the client installed.
Think of Snapdrop as an Airdrop solution that works across Android, iOS, Windows, Linux, and macOS. So the next time you need to transfer some files locally, perhaps Snapdrop can fill that niche for you.
TrailLink: Trail Maps & Trail Guide – Walk & Bike
If you happen to bike, longboard, skate, or walk a bunch, then you know full well it can be challenging to find all the trails in your area. Sure, Google Maps offers some excellent routes, but this misses the smaller trails and the unknowns. In comes crowdsourcing to the rescue, which is precisely how TrailLink operates. People using the app in your community can detail the trails in their area, and so can you, which builds up a database of trails for everyone involved. This way, everyone is free to use this app to find and document trails so the entire community can join in on the fun of being outdoors.
Squid – Take Notes & Markup PDF
There are many note-taking apps available on the Play Store, and there are even a few that offer handwritten notes, but Squid is a standout, thanks to its fantastic vector-based text that remains readable at all zoom levels. It’s a great tool for students or those who often take handwritten notes. Although the basic app is free, paid subscribers get additional like PDF importing and color backgrounds.
While subscriptions are rarely the best way to pay for an app, Squid comes in at under a dollar. Plus, Squid is great even if you don’t subscribe, and best of all, it works on tablets and Chromebooks alike.
Dolby On: Record Audio & Music
When I think Dolby, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t a free audio recording app for Android. But that’s exactly what Dolby On is, and it’s probably the best audio recording app on Android. Sure, Dolby isn’t some indie dev, but Dolby On isn’t a very well-known app, which is why I wanted to highlight it.
Thanks to its audio processing that supports noise reduction, de-essing, and a fade in/out, Dolby On is highly useful in an assortment of settings. There’s even a built-in EQ as well as support for spatial audio. So whether you want to record a band’s live performance in a noisy theater or simply want to record your next lecture, Dolby On has you covered. Best of all, Dolby On is totally free, so it’s easy to take for a spin if you’re intrigued.
MarinDeck for TweetDeck
This one is for all of you Twitter users out there. An enterprising developer brought TweetDeckback on Android to life with MarinDeck. At first the app was only available in Japanese, but after some attention, the developer eventually released an English patch. Sure, MarinDeck isn’t actually a revival of TweetDeck, but a clone that gets close, and it offers an excellent gallery view to boot. So if you’ve been missing TweetDeck all these years, perhaps MarinDeck will fill that void.
Caffeine – Keep Screen On
Here’s one all you Linux users should recognize. Yep, it’s Caffeine, an app that keeps your screen on for as long as you want. Android doesn’t offer an easy way to keep the screen on past 10 minutes, so if you’d like to use a tablet as a display, tossing Caffeine on there will ensure you can keep the screen on as long as you want without the need to tap the screen to keep it awake. It’s a simple purpose-built utility, and just like on Linux, it’s pretty useful on Android.
Just keep in mind the app shows up as a tile for your status bar pulldown, so you won’t see it in your app drawer once it’s installed.
Dream by WOMBO
Have you ever wondered what a picture of a pug may have looked like if Salvador Dalí had painted it? Wonder no longer. Dream by WOMBO is an incredibly slick app where you can input keywords, pick a famous artist, and then let the app’s AI generate a painting from your selections.
Dream by WOMBO is an incredibly fun app to mess around with, and if you like a picture, like you really like it, then you can get it printed for real to hang in your home, directly through the app. Playing around with Dream by WOMBO is a great way to pass the time when you have a few seconds to spare, plus the results are often suitable for a laugh with a few friends.
People hate the ads on YouTube so much there’s a YouTube fork out there that also delivers an ad-free experience. It’s called NewPipe, and you can find it on F-Droid, a free and open-source app store for Android apps. This YouTube fork is the go-to for those not using any Google framework libraries, like if you’re running a de-Googled Android ROM. This way, you can still install a YouTube app even if you don’t want Google having access to your information.
NewPipe is open-source, which means it’s free for anyone and everyone. You can sideload the APK that’s available on F-Droid, or you can use F-Droid’s client if you’d like to keep the app updated without having to manually install new versions each time. You can also find NewPipe APKs on its GitHub page.
Flowx: Weather Map Forecast
Weather apps are a dime a dozen on mobile, with tons of options to choose from. Single screen radar apps are certainly standouts amongst the crowd, and Flowx is one such app that offers an intuitive layout that contains all the info you would need on a single screen. Plus, you can micromanage your data layers so that you’ll see exactly what you want to see, whether that’s wind speeds, rain, heat, etc. You can easily drill down to the info you need to plan your day out. It’s a weather app for tinkerers or those into radar maps, but it’s also great for casual users.
The app is free to try, and if you like what you see, you can unlock new data sources through a few in-app purchases, with Gold, Silver, and Bronze data packs available, ranging in price from $5 a year to $20 a year.
Battery Guru: Battery Health
Optimization apps have earned a bad rap on Android, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few useful and honest optimizers out there. Battery Guru is easily one of those apps. Sure, you can dig in and fine-tune Doze behavior to optimize your battery life with this app, but you can also dig into tons of stats, which is how to keep on top of battery life in day-to-day, as well as lifetime use.
Not only does this app record your charging and discharging history, but you can also set temperature limits to ensure your battery is never tasked too hard. Basically, Battery Guru is a data lover’s dream, as it contains all the info you would need to properly set battery limits on your device. Plus, you can easily see which apps are using too much battery to ensure nothing you have installed goes rogue under your watchful eye.
Offline Survival Manual
What with current events and all, I’m sure more than a few of you have started looking into prepping and survival techniques. Thankfully there are apps that can help with this, such as Offline Survival Manual, which offers an offline manual that covers subjects like building a fire, how to build shelter, where to find food, as well as medical techniques for emergencies.
No internet connection is needed, but you will need power for your phone. So as long as you have some juice left when disaster strikes, then you’ll have a handy guide at your disposal. Indie Android Apps