Recommended Apps for teen daugther's new murena FF4 (coming gift)

Dad (me) is sitting before the to-be-configured gift: murena-ff4 with stock OS.
What to be installed to prepare a nice 1st experience 1st mobile for my teeny girl?

She is already used to her Linux PC with Xfce. Uses Thunderbird E-Mail Client, Firefox (with loads of privacy/ad-Blockeing addons) but innocent to most social media platforms (except e.g. youtube and some few others used without any login)

I already am quite sure that she will strongly prefer stable over new and flaky. And that I won’t wish data-collecting and privacy intrusive apps/logins (WattsApp/Faccebook/Twitch/Titkot/Gmail/Microsoft.* etc.). But also heard:

  • that the default picture-app is quite “underwhelming”,
  • that I could prefer F-Droid versions of apps because of higher security patch update frequency
  • that Signal and Telegram can be installed without using Google-Play-Store
  • she will need a nice audio-player app for LOCAL music (“external” sdcard already plugged into ff4) and no online streaming stuff needed.
  • that I have to prepare Auora shop to allow her installing some games
  • that tasks.org is “better” than the default one
  • that K-Mail might be the choice for mobile E-Mail access?

I still have few days to get this done. Maybe you can pass me some hints?

UPDATE

  • definitely some PC<->mobile transfer program to e.g. update her music files. (Currently she uses yt-dlp from PC commandline to get her new audio stuff and pushes via usb to her mp3-player, and I guess that mp3 player will quickly get replaced by her ff4)
  • Maybe some picture capturing/editing/hoarding software? She uses her PC digiKam software to store/hold her pictures.
  • Currently my own and old mobile is soo slow when it mpt-processes larger numer of files. I really hope there is some newer better faster way exchanging files via USB-cable between (linux)PC and mobile (not using anyones cloud service), but direct PC<->usb cable<->mobile - I rather save her from such crawling slow mtp experience that I suffer. And adb commandline tool… I rather not desire to explain her that all…

Some notes on your suggestions:

  • There is no need for F-Droid or Aurora store. The /e/ supplied App Lounge can access apps from both and in my experience is more stable than Aurora store. It may be useful to talk with your daughter about the difference between the two and why F-Droid apps are generally considered more trustworthy.

  • I recommend not installing or using Telegram. It’s not using end-to-end encryption by default, stores messages on cloud servers and it is not entirely clear who controls the service and who has access to the data.

  • I didn’t find it necessary to use a different e-mail client, the /e/ one works perfectly fine for me, except for the fact that it doesn’t collapse IMAP folder hierarchies

My recommendations based on what I personally use – I’d say just pick what seems useful for your daughter:

  • Tracker Control (F-Droid/App Lounge). Advanced Privacy currently only blocks a fraction of common trackers, so esepcially if she wants some Games from Aurora/Google Play, those will be infested with trackers (Alternatives: NetGuard, No Root Firewall, Blokada).
    I would also show her the log feature in Tracker Control for educational reasons. That way she can look at what connections the apps she has installed make all the time and understand what’s happening on her phone and see for herself that this isn’t all just paranoia. Even better, if friends install it too, they can compare how many connections are made.

  • NewPipe (F-Droid/App Lounge). Great way for your daughter to watch YouTube without a Google app and Google tracking and even download videos for offline use without WiFi. Also ad free of course. It also allows her to watch age restricted YouTube videos without logging in with an account, so maybe make sure to have the necessary conversations. But this goes for using the internet in general of course, YouTube is probably the least of your worries there.

  • Organic Maps (F-Droid/App Lounge). If she prefers a different map app than the stock /e/ one, this is great. It works offline so and unlike /e/ maps, search queries are not sent to a server. She may still want to look some things up in the Google Maps website through a browser to see pictures and business reviews, which the open source apps don’t offer. But Organic Maps doesn’t have satellite images, just graphical maps, so I use both it and /e/'s Maps app.

  • Signal (Google Play Store/App Lounge). Most commonly used private messenger. Unlike other private messengers, there is a chance that some of her friends are already using it. She can also get tons of cute stickers from signalstickers.com

  • QR Scanner (F-Droid/App Lounge). Open source QR code scanner app since /e/ doesn’t come with one.

  • Fennec (Firefox) or Brave (F-Droid/App Lounge). An alternative browser with adblocker is recommended since the /e/ browser doesn’t support addons (though an ad blocker is built in) and currently isn’t always kept up to date with security updates as much as we would like. In terms of privacy addons, uBlock Origin, ClearURLs and LocalCDN/Decentraleyes are my recommendation. uBlock shows which and how many trackers are in a page, that’s also great in terms of learning about these issues.

  • VLC (F-Droid/App Lounge). I use this for video and audio playback and it works well, but I don’t usually manage a large music collection on my phone, other people may have better recommendations.

  • CX File Explorer (Google Play Store/Aurora Store/App Lounge). This is a better file manager than the one that comes with /e/ and it supports connecting to network shares. So especially if you want to set up a NAS for your daughter’s or your family’s data one day, this is extremely useful. This tries to connect to Google Firebase, which is not blocked by Advance Privacy, so best to use in conjunction with Tracker Control or similar. But apart from that I really like it.

  • PassAndroid (F-Droid/App Lounge). This is an alternative to Apple/Google Wallet. Your daughter can store digital tickets in there like boarding passes, train tickets and so on. She just needs to make sure to download the passbook files intended for Apple devices, not Google when she gets a digital ticket.

  • vFlat (Google Play/Aurora Store/App Lounge). A good scanner app. Not open source and with a google tracker, so please use only with Tracker Control or similar. I switched off internet access for it in Tracker Control because a scan app doesn’t need internet.

  • SoftMaker TextMaker/PlanMaker/Presentations (Google Play/Aurora Store/App Lounge). Tracker free feature rich office suite with a free base version (some features like PDF export and printing limited I think). It’s lightweight, has the best compatibility with Microsoft Office file formats of all alternative office suites and comes in a free version for Windows, Mac and Linux as well (which can export PDF and print), which launches in seconds. Great to open and edit MS Office documents on Linux as well.

You could add some apps with educational value like Street Complete, Duolingo, Drops, Khan Academy, BirdNet etc., but all of that completely depends on her interests.

An alternative to the “news via social networks” trap many of us, especially young ones, fall into these days might be to install an RSS reader app where she can subscribe to updates from her favorite websites, news or otherwise. I don’t currently have one on my phone so I don’t have a recommendation for a good one, but I’m sure a few nice ones are on F-Droid that don’t require telling some company’s cloud what you’re reading (unlike something like Google Reader).

I can’t give many recommendations with respect to editing pictures since I don’t do that on my phone. I know Adobe Lightroom is quite good, but a privacy nightmare. Maybe if you can find a way to take away its internet connection and still keep it usable and running locally only.

For file transfer, I just use Cx File Explorer to transfer files between phones/computers (Android, iOS, Windows, Linux Mint, macOS) and my Synology NAS via WiFi and SMB shares. It works perfectly for my needs, even though a large 2 GB file sometimes might take a while to transfer from Android, but not too bad. I can even sync contacts and calendar with the NAS without relying on a cloud service. And it’s great to be able to browse and open all your files from all your devices locally in your home.

I hope this helps and I hope she can enjoy her new privacy friendly phone!

5 Likes

Hello,
Maybe Gcam or a real camera, KDEconnect to interact with a computer, and Radiodroid / Antennapod might be interesting for culture.

1 Like
  • open browser and commercial appstores pose a challenge. Only using F-Droid store I think offers benefits, restrict Aurora/AppLounge to only update the family+friends messengers
  • censored (“family safe”) DNS service - 1.1.1.3 or NextDNS with individual settings can tame a browser, but big platforms are quite mixed in content. Poor kids/parents
  • usageDirect, TimeLimit, AppManager for device use reflection or some restrictions
  • there are good games on F-Droid. Also Console emulators should be a treasure trove
  • kids find a way
1 Like

All the following points are based on my personal opinion: there is no objective standard for “better” :slight_smile:

Yes. Better alternatives are Aves Libre or Simple Gallery Pro

I use Telegram FOSS from F-Droid - works without problem

I use Vanilla Music

Yes. In Settings | Apps | Aurora Store |Open by default

  • Enable ‘Open supported links’ if not aready enabled
  • Press Add link, and enable both ‘play.google.com’ and ‘market.android.com
  • Then search for apps in Browser, press on Play store link and choose ‘Open in external app’

True in my opinion

K-9 Mail Again, true in my opinion. /e/'s Mail app is a fork of K-9 which doesn’t add any value and sometimes lags behind K-9 in terms of bug fixes and new features

Good luck, and I hope your daughter enjoys her new device

1 Like

vlc was already mentioned and there´s a bunch of good players out there … I like (and use) SicMuPlayer for its simple folder-tree-view/approach :slight_smile:

1 Like

You all: thx for this long list. I already have installed plenty of those!

Does anybody know, if and how I can make it happen that I download the large map-files of OSMAnd~ (F-Droid) to the external sdcard?

https://osmand.net/docs/user/personal/storage/

2 Likes