More than 90% of all smartphones around the world are powered by android, which comes with the Google Play store by default for downloading various apps and programs.
While Google Play is great and all, it is still a proprietary software, and requires a Google account with an active login to use it. Moreover, all the apps you download are linked to your Google account, beside the searches you do. Creating many privacy concerns for many folks out there.
Luckily, one does not need to use the Google Play program in order to download the games and apps he/she needs. There are many unofficial Google Play “clients” out there which allow users to download the apps they want without having to use Google Play or own a Google account.
One of the best open source Google Play alternatives out there is AuroraStore, which we’ll review today to take a closer look.
What Benefit is there for a Google Play Alternative?
Google is an increasingly evil company eating a large share of the web. Many users do not wish to use a Google account on a daily basis just to be able to download apps and games. Moreover, Google will be able to link any activity users do on its store thanks to the other information it has about them (Search, YouTube, GMail… etc) which increases the privacy risk.
A Google Play store alternative could solve these issues by providing a 3rd-party store that works as a proxy between the user and Google Play, so that the real user identity is never revealed and no Google account is required.
Some of these clients are closed-source, some of them are open source. Some of them are free while others are premium… The market is full with all types of stores out there. But of course, using the open source ones is much better for privacy and security, since the source code is always available for anyone to review and check.
An Open Source Google Play Alternative
AuroraStore is an open source app store developed by AuroraOSS; A less-known organization that aims to promote open source software. The store works as an intermediate layer between users and Google Play so that they can download everything in Play store without having to use it or own a Google account.
Its features can be summarized in:
- Easy workflow that can be set up in a few minutes to start downloading apps.
- Built not as an alternative app catalog, but on the same Google Play catalog, hence it provides all the same apps and games in the store (It’s not something like F-Droid, for example).
- Doesn’t require a Google account to use and install apps.
- Doesn’t need Google Play Services framework or MicroG.
- Works on any android version +5.0.
- Beautiful and simple user interface.
- Ability to spoof some identity information; Such as changing the requested language, smartphone model or geographical location.
- Advanced settings to manipulate APKs, how to store them and what to do with them afterwards.
- Many other features that are beneficial for users wishing to dispose of Google Play.
You can easily download the program from its official website on the organization’s website. You may also see the full list of all the available versions (daily builds) from the following mirror.
Additionally, AuroraStore is available on F-Droid.
The source code is available on GitLab, and licensed under GPL 3.
Using AuroraStore is quite easy, just like any other app store.
At the first setup, the program will ask you whether you would like to use an “anonymous” prebuilt account or a Google account you choose in order to interact with Google Play (Through the API, because retrieving anything from Google Play will always require an account). You can select whatever option you like, but of course, the anonymous option is much better since it will not collect any personal information about you or your device at all:
Then you can start browsing the available apps and games, which are exactly the same as in Google Play:
You can choose any of them and immediately start installing it:
Then it will tell you whether this app requires special permissions or not. That’s it:
One of the nice features of AuroraStore is that it shows you how many tracking scripts are there inside the apps you are browsing before you download them; Which helps you take the decision in whether to install them or not:
If you click on the the “View” button, you can reach a full report about the status of this app:
The store provides “Spoofing” features which allow you to change the language, location and smartphone model you are currently using so that you retrieve different versions of the apps you wish to download. For example, some apps may not be available in certain countries, so AuroraStore can help you bypass this issue in few clicks:
You can choose whatever settings you like afterwards:
Additionally, there are many advanced settings available in the store such as proxy configuration, APK manipulation and other tweaks you can possibly do. AuroraStore is not just a simple alternative to Google Play but an actual Swiss knife for that:
For any average android user, AuroraStore is a great open source Google Play alternative that does exactly the same job, but without giving in to Google and its monopoly. Users can easily switch to AuroraStore in no time and immediately start downloading apps and game they want.
This, alongside the fact that AuroraStore is free and open source makes it one of the best utilities out there that one should try in order to increase privacy on smartphones.
For any comments or questions about the store, we would love to hear your voices in the comments section below: Would you use AuroraStore as your alternative to Google Play? Why or why not?