If you are an Android user, you must have noticed the amount of preinstalled apps on your device. Some of them are OK, some definitely aren’t. But, since they were preinstalled, you got them kind of for free. As you haven’t installed them manually, you might have not noticed the amount of permissions they have. Just find an app in your device Settings and check the granted permissions. Depending on the device and manufacturer, you might find a Calendar without any other services integrated, but still requiring internet access. There may be some apps having for example access to your contacts or files for unexplainable reasons. Internet access is so common, that you don’t even have to explicitly grant it, unlike a couple other ones. I’ve just checked my device and the crappy preinstalled custom Email client requires almost double the permissions than Gmail requires.
My second problem with preinstalled apps, or apps in general, are ads. Yes, creating those apps costs big companies a lot of money, that’s just how inefficient they are. But how the heck can they rely on ads to make a profit? They annoy everyone, and almost no one clicks on them intentionally, at least not me. Some companies are clearly trying to make users click on them by mistake, but a file manager with ads between folders is just unacceptable and it won’t stay on my device for long.
The third problem is the user experience. Even though they are native apps and companies know they will be used only on Android, they still often don’t stick to the design guidelines. I’m not interested in their companies’ custom animations and icons (increasing costs of production even further), when I have no idea what the button will do when pressed. Google provides a huge list of Material icons which is more than enough for most apps.
Widgets are part of the user experience too and I love using them, so they must be mentioned. Some apps provide widgets when it makes sense, like clocks with the weather, which is a good thing. However, very few allow widget customization, even though the users may have light or dark wallpapers. Widgets can not only save a huge amount of time, but they can also make the home screen look awesome when set up properly. Setting up properly is the key part here, as only a very few widgets are really customizable. If the app color doesn’t match the color of the users’ wallpaper, or if the widget background is too light or too dark, well, that’s just too bad. Also, there’s no need for creating apps with a thousand features that only 1% of users will use. I just want simple apps that work, don’t make me press 2–3 buttons till I get to taking photos in a camera.
Don’t make me think just to use a camera.
Lastly, I want apps that are useful. I’m not interested in creating movies on a smartphone or drawing butterflies over photos. If I wanted to, I’d download an app for that myself. I know that some apps from Google have to be preinstalled, but that’s a different topic. If the device manufacturers stopped producing that garbage and instead focused their manpower and money on applying patches faster, upgrading operating systems faster, and supporting devices longer, I’d be willing to pay even more for them. That would make them even more money than hoping that I’ll click that ad. Let the market take care of the apps.
Now, you’re probably wondering, what are actually Simple Mobile Tools? Well, it is a group of simple, open source Android apps with customizable widgets, without ads and unnecessary permissions. And many other benefits. I wanted to create apps that didn’t have all the things I hated in phone apps - unnecessary permissions, ads, poor user experience and non-customizable widgets. I feel like I’m not the only one who hates these things; therefore, checking out my suite of apps might be helpful to you. You can get them on Google Play, or at their website. Simple Gallery Pro is actually so popular, that it received a standalone page.
So, this was my 2 cents on the topic. If you agree with my points, you should give the apps a go. I’d love to hear your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t hesitate sending the negative comments too, whatever they might be about.
If you like the project, there are multiple ways you can support it. The first one is financial support, the next one is helping translating the apps in your language. You can also give good feedback/ratings, or spreading the word in any way. Feel free to promote the apps on any website/forum you’d like. You can find a couple screenshots/icons here. Clapping for this post is appreciated as well, as it helps reaching more people :)
Oh, did I mention that the apps are open source? You can find the code on Github. So yeah, you can help with actual code and fixes too.
There are many reasons why these apps belong to the best ones out there, you can find our reasoning here.
Update: The apps are 2 years old, read the full story!
Update 2: Some of the apps are becoming paid, read more about it here.