Although the official Android platform isn't open source (nor is the majority of the apps found on the Google Play Store), there are plenty of open-source apps available for you to install and enjoy. These apps range from silly games to everyday tools. One category that benefits from open source is productivity. You'll find apps to fit many of your productivity needs. If you don't like the way these apps look or behave (or even if you want to add new features) and you have the skills to do so, you can get their source and rework them to better fit your needs.
Let's take a look at some of the open-source productivity apps for Android and see if there aren't one or two that might take up permanent residence on your Android devices.
1. Tomdroid notes
Tomdroid notes is a Tomboy client for Android (Figure A). This approach to note-taking is a bit different than your standard app. The Tomdroid notes app uses the wiki-style approach. With each note, you can format the text, sync notes online (you must have a Rainy, Snowy, or Tomboy online account for this), save your notes to the SD card, link titles/web addresses/email, and more. The ability to send notes (as either text or file) via the built-in Android sharing system makes this note-taking app incredibly helpful. Check out the source here.
Tomdroid running on a Verizon-branded HTC M8.
Tomdroid is currently in beta, but it still performs like a champ.
2. Daily Money
Daily Money is one of the best financial apps you'll find for free on the Google Play Store. This app tracks your income, assets, expenses, supports multiple currencies, does import and export (CSV), includes charts (such as balance chart and time chart) and reports (such as monthly balance, yearly balance, and cumulative balance), has password protection, calculates and balance money, allows you to add multiple accounts, breaks expenses into categories, and more. It helps that Daily Money has an outstanding user-friendly interface (Figure B).
The Daily Money interface is a perfect example of how open source can be done on Android.
Check out the source for Daily Money here.
DiskUsage is one of the best tools for viewing what's consuming your storage card space (think Windirstat for Android). With integration into OI File Manager and ASTRO File Manager with Cloud, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better solution to report on what's taking up all that space on your SD card. When you find something (say and app) that's taking up a lot of space, you can tap on that app (to select) and then tap Show (Figure C), which will open the app in the Android Application Manager (where you can delete the app, if you so choose). If you're one of those users who always wants to keep tabs on what's on your phone and what's taking up space, do yourself a favor and install DiskUsage.
Tap Show to stop, clear the app cache, or uninstall the app.
Get the source for DiskUsage here.
Quill is an outstanding handwriting note-taking app. It offers active pen support (on the ThinkPad Tablet, HTC Jetstream, HTC Flyer, and Samsung Galaxy Note), has incredible response to pen strokes, offers a fountain pen mode (supports pen pressure), strokes are vector (so they don't pixelate), has a pen-only mode (so your fingers don't accidentally draw or write for you), PDF and PNG export, and much more.
There are plenty of handwriting note-taking apps, but Quill stands out thanks to its easy-to-use interface (Figure D), elegant pen strokes, and the fact that it's open source.
Quill running on a Verizon-branded LG G Pad.
If you're looking for open-source apps for Android, there are plenty. This just barely scratches the surface of what's available (I'll cover some other categories in the near future).
Have you found an open-source Android app that is better than its closed-source brethren? If so, what was it, and why do you prefer it over the proprietary solution? Let us know in the discussion thread below.
Get information about all things Android by automatically subscribing to TechRepublic's The Android Expert newsletter.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.