Posts Smartphone Apps and OS I Use

Smartphone Apps and OS I Use

My Phone Toolset


I am currently using a refurbished Nexus 4 for a few years now. If you think about buying a new phone, please think deeply about buying a refurbished or used phone. We are currently in a climate crisis and cannot afford to be wasteful with our resources. Additionally, it’s cheaper and you may end up with a very good deal. Just google refurbished smartphone, there are plenty of suppliers. Or if you absolutely want to buy a new phone, you could go for the Fairphone. There phone has a 10/10 iFixit Score, you can easily replace the battery, camera, display and more. Additionally, they a very transparent about their manufacturing process and the materials they use.

Additionally, if you want to install a custom ROM you need to unlock the bootloader, some brands or companies make it easier for you than others. Unlocking the bootloader on Nexus phones is fairly easy. An unlocking step-by-step guide for the Fairphone will be published in the coming weeks.

Operating System

Lineage OS

LineageOS is a free and open-source operating system based on Android. It’s the successor of the custom ROM CyanogenMod. What I like about it is that it does not come with any Crapware. You can use it without any Google related services. However, I myself installed a minimal set of Google servcies, the pico package of Open GApps. This includes only the Google Play Store, Google Calendar Sync, Dialer Framework, Google Package Installer and Google Play Services. Mainly because the Google Play Store can install app updates automatically in the background. Also some apps will warn you about missing Google Play Services and some may not even work without this service.

There are alternative app stores like Aurora Store that you can install via F-Droid, an installable catalogue of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) applications. Aurora allows you to install apps from Google Play Store, even without any Google account. Some apps relay on Google Play Services and warns you about this, but in my experience they work nonetheless. If you do not use your own Google account with Aurora some apps may cannot be installed. As the default accounts are located in Russia and some apps liked LinkedIn are blocked in Russia. Also sometimes the Aurora Store does not work. But if you do not want any Google Service installed or a Google account but still want apps from Google Store, this is your way to go. Additionally, you can download apps from APKMirror.

It’s available for a good number of devices. See the devices list here. For every device there is also an installation instruction guide. These guides show you each step that needs to be done to install the custom ROM on your phone. Alternative you can use my guide here. Additionally, if you want to install Google services as well you need to install them separately Google apps. But this optional step is also pointed out in the installation instructions.

After installing LineageOS I did not root my phone. Because I think it is a security risk to use an admin account all the time. If you get infected by malware you are compromised with a malware that has root access.


An alternative Android based OS that focus on security and privacy is CopperheadOS. It is developed my a Canadian team of security researchers, forensic analysts, and software developers. However, I have not tested it yet, as I did not have any phone supporting it. See what phones are supported on the devices list.


App Store

Besides Google Play Store I use F-Droid. On there website it says F-Droid is an installable catalogue of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) applications for the Android platform. The client makes it easy to browse, install, and keep track of updates on your device. If the app is available in F-Droid catalogue I install it with F-Droid otherwise with Google Play Store.


Instead of the Google Calendar I use Simple Calendar Pro and DAVx5 to sync it with my email provider. Both apps can be installed with F-Droid. DAVx5 is used to sync the calendar of my email account with my local calendar on my phone.

As an email provider I use Posteo. It’s a german based company focusing on privacy and sustainability. It costs 1 euro per month, but therefore it is ad-free, privacy friendly and the servers are running with 100% electricity from Greenpeace energy. I am using it for years now and it is my absolute favorite email provider.


As a messenger I mainly use Threema which focus on security and privacy. You can either buy it from the Google Play Store or buy a license in there own shop. If buying a license in there shop you can download the apk file from there website and the app can update itself with you permission once installed. What I like most about it besides having a security and privacy first policy is that the messenger is not connected to you phone number, you could use it even without a SIM card. End-to-end encryption is a very good thing. However, metadaten can still be collected about you and may reveal more about you than you think. Check out this article. There is also a German version available on Netzpolitik.


For tracking my expenses I use the open source app My Expenses. I am really impressed by this, it is actively developed, is highly customizable but is very easy to use.


As my two-factor authentication app I use andOTP. It implements Time-based One-time Passwords (TOTP) and HMAC-Based One-Time Passwords (HOTP). But remember to make backups and store them additionally somewhere else. One time I forgot to make a backup before resetting my phone and therefore lost one of my keys. Since then I always have a backup of these laying somewhere on my disks.


As a browser I use the Tor Browser. The connection speed is sufficient and I never had any difficulties using it. The Tor Browser replaces Orfox, with which I previously had some difficulties with. If suggest you to try out the new Tor Browser app. Also by increasing the number of people using Tor we can make it more difficult for intelligence agencies and governments to track down human right activists, whistleblowers and persecuted minorities.


I lately became a very big fan of podcast. As you can consume them during boring tasks like traveling to university/work, housework or something else. And depending on the podcast you hear, you may even learn something new. For managing all of my podcasts I use AntennaPod. It allows me to search for podcast from various sources, notifies me when new episodes are online, I can download them and put them in a queue, waiting for me to be listened to.

Weather and Emergency

If you live in Germany you can install Warn-App NINA and WarnWetter-App. You can let these app track your personal location or set different areas. If there is a extreame weather or floodwaters or another emergency these apps will send you a notification and inform/warn you about the circumstances.

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