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Android Leftovers

F-Droid Spotlight: Infinity for Reddit (and More)

  • F-Droid Spotlight: Infinity for Reddit

    I found a useful app for accessing Reddit in the F-Droid store, which is called Infinity.

    Like most apps that come from the Google Play store, the official Reddit app is packed full of tracking libraries, it displays a lot of ads, and it just generally doesn’t work very well.

    I was surprised to find Infinity in the F-Droid store. I had been using RedReader, but I felt that too much functionality was missing and that it had clearly been designed for a very old version of Android.

    I value being able to move through Reddit quickly and not seeing their annoying “sponsored post” advertisements (garbage) while being able to access all of its features, plus being able to get at and download media that Reddit normally tries to hide. Infinity delivers on all of this.

    When I’m on my laptop, of course, none of this is a problem, but on mobile, nobody invests anything in their “mobile sites” and they add “incentives” to use their apps, like breaking basic functionality that a mobile browser could run to compel people to get their app, where they can data mine their entire device and the ad blocker will be ineffective. On Facebook’s mobile site, they even removed access to Messenger to try to force people to move over to their Android spyware.

    Some blame, of course, goes to Apple, for deliberately holding back the web platform features available to WebKit on iPhones, which all “browsers” on that platform must use, but site owners certainly have no incentive to shift things to a site where people may block their trackers.

  • Google Play Spotlight: GasBuddy, Grindr, or how I informed Facebook using Android. F-Droid Spotlight: TrackerControl.

    As everyone should know already, privacy on an Android phone, in general, is pretty much a joke.

    In fact, the more “apps” you install from Google, the worse things get. Not only does every application published in the Play Store phone home, at a minimum, to give Google crash and analytics data about you (even if the underlying program is Free Software), but developers generally have every incentive to include more.

    When Facebook was forced to reveal “Off Site Activity Data” under recent privacy laws like the EU’s GDPR and California’s CCPA, it made them very hard to get at, but when you eventually find the link that gives you limited control over it, you’ll find that most Android apps are spying on you when you open them and are sending them data.

    In fact, Facebook publishes a tracking library that app developers can bundle in exchange for money.

    When you “learn more”, Facebook admits that it gets more data than it tells you about here, and it’s not even clear what really happens to the data when you clear it and set it so that they don’t use this activity later.

    So what does that have to do with apps like GasBuddy? Well, I opened it up and TrackerControl revealed that there are no less than 25 tracker libraries included in this one app, and but one of them is Facebook.

  • Failure is not an option, it comes with every Samsung Galaxy phone. (Thanks to Microsoft and T-Mobile.) Swap out the photo gallery with F-Droid.

    We used to joke about Windows that failure was not an option. It came bundled with every copy.

    Under Microsoft’s tutelage (and threats of patent aggression), Samsung phones have been getting excessively annoying. I keep saying that my next phone might just be a Google device, but next time I don’t think I’d consider a Samsung, even if they’re really cheap.

    When I bought my Galaxy S20 FE last year at Best Buy, I did not know that the Microsoft “integration” went deeper than some apps that the salesman assured me, could mostly be gotten rid of.

    While the apps are mostly gone, Samsung has integrated a lot of things directly into the firmware.

    Samsung’s Android phones have tended to be a disjointed mess of their own homegrown crap, which has been accumulating, and still there despite users constantly mocking it (Bixby) , Google’s crap, which all has to be preloaded per the Google Play Certification, and now Microsoft’s crap, which is there because Microsoft threatened them with software patent lawsuits if they didn’t bundle it.

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