WELCOME TO THE DARK ANDROID PROJECT

darkandroid2

What is this…”Dark Android” thing? Glad you asked. Dark Android is simply this: Take an Android device and make it serve the purposes of an individual person’s desire for anonymity, privacy, and security (and some “decentralization” if you like, an overarching concept of all four principles that I call DAPS).

How is this accomplished? It’s not easy (though it’s getting easier all the time). It’s a “witch’s brew” of the right hardware, the right software, and the right attitude, and we’ll cover all three of those here at DarkAndroid.info with the main page being the guide (which will be regularly updated, so check back often), and then various news and updates through the Dark Android blog.

To give you an idea of how deep WE’RE NOT going to go, and what it would really take to make your Android device nearly-unquestionably secure, the Tor Project wrote up an excellent article on just what it would take here (you’ll see why I created the Dark Android Project once you realize just how deep a person has to go into the “nuts and bolts” to achieve that. Dark Android is meant to be far more practical for the average user). But what Dark Android lacks in breadth of hardware and software adjustment like that article describes, we’ll make up for in attitude.

Keep in mind, this isn’t comprehensive, nor is it a definitive statement…it’s just a beginning, and many more things will be added (or removed as needed) in the future to this site. Also, be sure to keep up to date with more Dark Android stories at the Dark Android Blog.


ATTITUDE

HARDWARE

APPS/SOFTWARE

1. AOSP and CYANOGENMOD
2. APP STORE
3. WEB BROWSER
4. VPN and MALWARE/ANTI-VIRUS
5. TOR and ANONYMITY
6. MAPS
7. SEARCH
8. MESSAGING
9. TORRENTS
10. GAMING
11. EMAIL
12. OFFICE
13. KEYBOARD
14. READING
15. BITCOIN
16. MUSIC and PODCASTS
17. FACEBOOK
18. TWITTER
19. GOOGLE+ and TUMBLR
20. VIDEO STREAMING
THAT’S IT…FOR NOW
OTHER SITES TO VISIT


 

ATTITUDE

And let’s get right into it as I want to start off with attitude. Because if you’re not going to approach this with the needed mindset, the hardware and software aren’t going to mean much (though you are welcome to use any and all information here in bits and pieces as you see fit, just keep in mind that nowhere on this page am I making any 100% legally-binding guarantees with any information or claims I am sharing with you). The old adage is true: “Attitude is everything”. And a quick point I want to mention, much of what Dark Android is about is only possible thanks to the advent of cryptocurrencies (which we’ll talk about in the software section). But just as an introduction to “attitude” so you don’t go all TL;DR on me,

So the only way, I mean, if you absolutely need anonymity, is to roll together old-school approaches and new-school. Go somewhere to do this as far away from home as convenient. Be anonymous there. Pay with cash. Don’t go somewhere familiar. Don’t know anyone. Don’t make any friends. Don’t talk to anyone. Don’t stay long. Plan ahead. Rehearse for speed. Get it done and leave. Don’t do anything there that involves your own real-world identity. Pay with cash. Change the MAC address of your machine. Maybe buy a cheap laptop just for this purpose so that it knows nothing, you have no history tied to it and so forth.

And I would say, since you have control over Tor, use more than three nodes. Don’t use the default settings. Use as many as you can so that you’re – oh, and use widely geographically dispersed Tor nodes. Those will be slower because all the traffic bouncing around has to go through all of those locations. So, yes, it’s not going to be as quick and easy. But to get anonymity, it can’t be. Do what you need to do and then pack up shop and leave. So new school and old school. But unfortunately, all of the research demonstrates today that Tor was an interesting experiment. But what we know about what the NSA is capable of doing and some evidence of what has happened shows us that we just can’t rely on it for one-stop shopping of being anonymous on the Internet.

Now the above is a quote by Steve Gibson from the excellent podcast, “Security Now”, that he hosts with Leo LaPorte on the TWiT Network. It’s an excellent introduction into what the “right attitude” to achieve security, privacy, and anonymity takes. The takeaway in the end is essentially this, if you want to use make purchases of what are conventionally known as “illicit goods”, or you want to communicate without alphabet soup companies like the NSA, the FBI, GCHQ, etc. recognizing that it is you from just the metadata alone, you have to “pretend” you are not you, but that you are someone else. Recent research has shown that any organization with enough desire can track you based upon your battery usage alone–to say nothing of the GPS in the device while on–and so if you really want to go “full-paranoid” with your online interactions–whatever they may be–you can’t “be you”, you have to be someone else. Be the Green Ranger. Be Casanova. I don’t care, just be someone other than the name that was given to you, and every time you pick up your Dark Android device, “be” that person. Now, that doesn’t mean that has to be done 100% of the time, of course, but that’s the point of having a Dark Android device: a cheap, throwaway Android device (like the laptop that Steve Gibson mentioned above) that you use when you need to do things that society-at-large or even those close to you would find, at the very least, objectionable. Again, please understand, all of the information being laid out here is a “buffet”, you choose to use what you want to use. You don’t have to have the above mindset at all. You can just use the hardware and software listed and move on. And since we’re moving on, why don’t we get into the hardware?

HARDWARE

First things first: This is mainly for tablets. You can use it for smartphones as you see fit (again, all of this information is adaptable to taste), but any mobile device that has a SIM card in it is a security risk at best, and gives you a complete lack of control of your device at worst (Ever had your mobile carrier reboot your phone for you when you needed a problem troubleshooted? They could do that because of the SIM card installed. SIM cards are bad.). As a side note, you could take the SIM card out of a smartphone and use it as a mini-tablet, but keep in mind that telecoms like Verizon and Sprint often don’t make it easy to remove their phones SIM cards. Either way you go, I’m sure you’re wondering how do you have a persistent data connection and/or phone number if you only use a tablet? We’ll get to that.

But let’s get into what tablets are the best to get. This is a question of what you want to do with the device. If you want to do gaming (and you can do heavy gaming with a Dark Android device), that narrows down your options. If you’re not interested in gaming, things get pretty interesting. There are countless tablets that sell sometimes for less than $50 that would serve your purposes very well (from sites like Newegg where you can purchase with Bitcoin, and thus somewhat anonymously, if you wish), and will often come loaded with AOSP instead of Google’s (the company now subordinate to Alphabet, Inc.) “approved” version of Android, which is very important in your choice of tablet: does it come with AOSP, or is it supported by Cyanogenmod? Can it be rooted? If at least two of those criteria cannot be met, it’s a worthless tablet for Dark Android’s goals (and if you still want to do all of this a smartphone, the same criteria stands).

In the end, as it stands right now (and this page will be updated as needed), the best all-around tablet you can buy is the 2013 Nexus 7, non-LTE, with 32GB. Even if you want to do gaming, this tablet will stand up very well. It’s only flaw is that it doesn’t have a microSD card slot, but the 32GB of storage will serve our purposes very well. Having a lot of storage is really important, particularly when we get into the software section of this and we discuss offline maps which will take 8GB alone(!) on your device. Perhaps the only alternative tablet I’d entertain is something from Sony’s Xperia tablet line. Sony, for whatever reason, is very good about releasing its source code and allowing for easier installation and device development for Cyanogenmod or AOSP itself. Sony also includes microSD slots, and WATERPROOF tablets, which can be a serious advantage to consider.

A finer point to think about is the camera. While for many a GREAT-quality camera is a bonus, for the purposes of Dark Android, a great device camera should be soon as a negative. It’s simple, if you can’t take a good picture with it…no one else can either. The solutions to this are simple either way: tape or stickers. Just cover the cover with a sticker or easy-remove tape. On phones this is harder as the devices have less area to apply the covering, but with tablets, this is generally much easier.

In brief:

  • NO SIM CARD (if it’s one that can be removed, though, that’s acceptable).
  • Make sure the device can be rooted.
  • Make sure the device is compatible with AOSP or Cyanogenmod.
  • Have as much storage as possible, with the option of a microSD slot being preferable.
  • If you still want to do gaming, make sure the device has a quad-core processor (which the 2013 Nexus 7 and Xperia’s have).
  • At the very least, cover the camera with tape or stickers.

But what if you’re living a totally anonymous life, but you need a constant data connection to communicate with people or make transactions, etc.? Well, unless you live in Tokyo where WiFi blankets the city, you can’t always rely on an open WiFi connection to connect to. So there are a couple of options. One is to get a mobile hotspot device (much like what FreedomPop offers). As much of what will be transmitted from your Dark Android device will be encrypted, this is less dangerous than it would at first seem. What I would personally do, though, is have a “dumbphone” or “feature phone” that handles my phone calls and texts. A completely separate device, often called a “burner“. These can be had relatively easily without attaching them to your real identity, and their monthly plans are incredibly inexpensive (something I’ll talk about in future Dark Android articles are clever ways dumbphones can be used to even do Bitcoin transactions if you needed to pay someone when WiFi isn’t around, but cell signal is). And the second point to all of this, is that with my tablet I would just stop relying on being connected all the time. Much of what I’ll describe in the software section allows for offline use. Remember, too, the more you’re offline, the less metadata or data corporations or governments get (an ethics matter we’ll discuss in future posts, as well). It’s an advantage to not be connected, not a disadvantage. 

So since we’re on the topic, let’s get to the software-side of Dark Android…

APPS/SOFTWARE

I am generalizing in average use of what people do with a mobile device, so if there is some kind of activity that you do that is missing from this list, please let me know. I’ll address it in future articles or add it here. Keep in mind also that I cannot link to much of these apps.

1. AOSP and CYANOGENMOD

Earlier we mentioned Cyanongenmod and AOSP. These are open-source implementations of Android that will give you much better (if not total) control of you device, and will thwart a lot of security concerns for our purposes. As far as installation of these on your device, that is a subject better broached at their respective sites as it can be very different for each device. So not much time will be spent with that here, though I will say when you do have them installed, get very comfortable with their settings and “turn off” as much as you can (“Alerts”, etc.). The key point to installing these open-source operating systems instead of sticking with the version of Android your average device comes with (which includes Google’s Play Store), is to get away from Alphabet’s prying eyes and level of control over your device. It’s a level of control that is increasing every year with each new release, and we want to free ourselves from it with Dark Android. You’re probably recognizing a predicament now, though. Where are you going to get apps if you don’t have the Play Store? Well, until Cyanogenmod has its own app store (which is being developed)–and perhaps even after still–we need to get an alternative. And no, it’s not the Amazon Appstore.

2. APP STORE

F-Droid is the answer, and it makes so much of this possible. F-Droid is an app store/repository that is chock-full of open-source apps that can replace 99% of what you would get out of the Play Store, and it is easily installed onto your device. Like the Play Store, it updates itself, and lets you know when there are updates for the apps you have installed. It is a perfect replacement for the Play Store, though it does have one flaw. The apps in the F-Droid store, while open-source, are not put through the same security audit that apps in other corporate-owned app stores are. So in many ways, it’s “downloader beware” (I don’t know how that would get said in Latin). But that’s also a major part of the Dark Android Project is to sift through and find the best apps in their class that are available through the F-Droid app repository. And that’s another thing about F-Droid…it’s tough to call it a “store” since all of the apps available on it are TOTALLY FREE. See? Dark Android is going to save you some money. Speaking of money…

SIDE NOTE

Another major factor that makes Dark Android possible are cryptocurrencies. Much what allows one to purchase things anonymously on Tor, or now in life in general, is due to the creation of Bitcoin and its sister currencies/technologies (such as NXT, Litecoin, etc.). I’ll list off some Bitcoin wallet options later in this section, but lets be clear that the ability to buy online goods anonymously (offline goods can generally be done with cash) is largely possible due to cryptocurrencies. Full credit to Satoshi Nakamoto for making this a reality.

3. WEB BROWSER

So, what is the first bit of software we’re going to download? Well, ironically, it’s the most online (in a desirably largely offline device) piece of software you could get: the web browser! And in this case, as I’m sure you guessed, we’re not going to use Google’s Chrome. While a few different options exist, the answer used to be Firefox. The problem is that Firefox is starting to strongarm the use of web technologies (which stands against its “open” nature, even if it’s “forcing” a “good thing”), and it is adopting closed-source DRM (and closed-source is against Dark Android’s aims). Also, recently, F-Droid only carries up to version 34 of Firefox, which Firefox is now up to version 36. Firefox was a competent, feature-complete, modern browser that even on a non-Dark Android device was your best option to use for many reasons. So if we can use something that is based off of Firefox’s solid code, without the closed-source DRM and strongarming, that would be perfect. Fortunately, this exists! It’s called “IceCat” (formerly “IceWeasel). IceCat is Firefox, but truly open, and compiled by the great people at the Free Software Foundation. The caveat is that you can’t auto-update it from the F-Droid repository, or even download it from F-Droid. But, if you were able to install the F-Droid repository, you’ll easily be able to install the latest version of IceCat (go here), and the FSF does a great job of keeping IceCat up to date.

Another browser that has entered the fray thanks to The Guardian Project (more on them later) is also Firefox-based, and it’s called: Orfox. Designed to work through Tor, it also has many other privacy-centric features. Impressively, Orfox is not available in the Google Play Store at all, and is only available as a separate .apk like IceCat, or in the aforementioned F-Droid app repository. I think this makes an important statement, making it clear they’re not so interested in dealing with Alphabet. Kudos to them for that. This browser will also eventually replace Orbot, which was a very simplistic (which, let’s be honest, complexity is the enemy of security) web browser that I wouldn’t recommend because it was missing some very key features. While Orfox is still in its early phases of development, I’ve had very few issues in using it full-time, but do keep in mind that it is still in development as of this writing. This section will update, and it will be mentioned on the Dark Android Blog when Orfox has “gone gold” (completed product) in the future.

So what is IceCat or Orfox going to do for your device? What they are largely going to allow you to do is use a lot of mobile-ready websites and services, even if F-Droid doesn’t have an official app for it (think Gyft.com for purchasing gift cards with Bitcoin, and then going to Amazon.com to get the various things you need, or even getting gift cards for chain restaurants and using IceCat/Orfox to pull up the gift card and redeem it in person). Also, if a site isn’t mobile-ready, IceCat/Orfox does a much better job of translating a full “desktop” site onto a smaller screen, so you can use a website service in that way, as well. Another great and overlooked feature is IceCat/Orfox’s ability to save a webpage as a PDF. This is fantastic for reading website content offline, considering your Dark Android tablet will likely not have as persistent connection as a smartphone would. Another advantage that IceCat/Orfox has is its ability to use “Add-ons”. While IceCat automatically has add-ons like HTTPS Everywhere and Spyblock (an adblocker), and Orfox has other preset features, there are many other add-ons to help bolster your privacy and security on your device as possible. Also from a security standpoint, IceCat/Orfox has an independent–from Android itself–security authority that gives you a comforting second layer of security few apps offer. IceCat/Orfox has even been able to stop browsing traffic spying from mobile carriers due to this. It’s priceless security, and the most important app in our modern world for Dark Android (and beyond). Either IceCat or Orfox will serve your purposes well.

4. VPN and MALWARE/ANTI-VIRUS

And while on the topic of security, let’s talk about VPN’s and anti-virus software for Dark Android. Disconnect.me is the go to option here, and it is a service of which the Premium version has to be paid for (though they do accept Bitcoin). In fact, Disconnect.me’s various services are not available in the F-Droid store…but they’re not available in the Play Store, either. Why isn’t it in the Play Store? Because it does what it does so well, that it blocks what a lot of Google’s partnership agreements allow app companies and companies in general to do (it even gives you anonymity when doing a Google search!). Google hates these guys, and that means you should love them, and I think they are worthy of your Bitcoin. Going to their website with IceCat will give you the opportunity to download it onto your device and it’s an easy install (and if you really want, one account actually protects multiple devices, including PC’s. Consider that.). Certainly, too, there’s nothing wrong with going “raw dog” as far as security on your device (no malware/antivirus software), but a VPN is still essential, in my opinion, and there are lots of OpenVPN options to choose from, something future Dark Android articles will discuss.

5. TOR and ANONYMITY

Here’s where Dark Android gets really fun. The ability to access Tor, and all of the goods and information the Dark Web offers, as well as the (somewhat) anonymity its use provides, is essential to Dark Android. Fortunately, this has been made very easy by The Guardian Project. Right after F-Droid and IceCat, this is the most important software–nay, collection of software–that you can get your hands on, and it’s available right on F-Droid. Orbot, which lets you access Tor, is made by the Guardian Project, and with a rooted Android device, you can force Orbot to channel every app on your device through Tor. Very handy. Keep in mind that the use of Tor does cause things to slow down a bit, but convenience oft comes at the cost of privacy/anonymity/security. The list of apps available from The Guardian Project solves so much of what people want to do with a mobile device, including a great chat app like ChatSecure, and even the ability to make encrypted voice calls (not telephone number phone calls) through CSipSimple makes their work a must have for a Dark Android device. Feel free to look through their catalog and download what’s useful, I couldn’t recommend their work enough.

6. MAPS

Probably topping most people’s list of “What I need on Dark Android” is a solid Google Maps replacement. While certainly every navigation software is playing catch-up with Google’s titan app (the one that got close to besting it, Waze, was bought out by Google, likely to make sure they didn’t get bested), there are some very solid alternatives. The first thing you want to look for in map and navigation software is whether or not it uses the Open Streets Map as its backend mapping system. This is free, open-source, crowd-sourced data that has really come a long way in recent times. And the best implementation in the F-Droid store that uses Open Streets Map is: OsmAnd. While some of its features are “pay to use”, the bulk of it works very well right out of the box. And the real winner where it beats Google Maps? You can have a complete map of the world offline, that doesn’t require a data connection to get you around. Even if you weren’t going Dark Android, offline maps are a lifesaver in many situations. Dark Android FTW, in this case.

7. SEARCH

If you haven’t already realized it, the overall point of Dark Android is to get away from Alphabet and its services. Entirely. So what about Alphabet’s cream of the crop: Search? Well, this is another area where a fantastic alternative (that has even been recommended by Apple, of all companies) comes into fore: DuckDuckGo. DuckDuckGo has a great app that allows you to search just as you would with Google (including searching Tor, which Google won’t do), and even has some nice features like a “popular stories” app. Also it allows you to control your search history, and it doesn’t track your searches like pretty-much every other search engine out there. If you’re not using DuckDuckGo on your desktop yet, you might want to consider it for that too. For Dark Android, it’s essential, and it will even put a nice search bar on your home screen, just like Google does. DuckDuckGo’s website version also has a slew of features (including chat, and others) that are well worth looking at. Easy pick.

8. MESSAGING

We’re not going to be making telephone number-based phone calls with our tablets, nor will we be accepting SMS messages (this sort of thing will be covered in a future article). But let’s say it is something you’d really like to do, there is a way to set this up now on Android. What you’ll need is the Signal app. Signal is simply an app made by Open Whisper Systems that combines the classic (and gold standard) encrypted messaging app TextSecure with its sister encrypted phone call app RedPhone. The complication here, though, is you need a phone number to receive the verification text for Signal to work. You can get a phone number by buying a “burner” cell phone (just a cheap phone that you don’t use for anything important), receive the text with the verification code, and then input that code onto your tablet with Signal installed. Bear in mind that Signal is not available in the F-Droid app repository, so you’ll have to grab it from APKMirror or similar websites. Then you can use Signal to receive text messages (even SMS) and do group messaging, and also make encrypted phone calls. It’s a little bit of a pain to do, but you may find it worth it. Keep in mind, to make encrypted phone calls, the person you’re calling will have to have Signal installed, as well. This isn’t a “make phone calls from your tablet” solution by any means.

But if you don’t want so much of a hassle, and are looking for more of a media-rich messaging app that we can use to keep in touch with people, maybe even send files or voicemail, or pictures, or have group chats? The answer is simple, and it’s one of my favorite pieces of software on the planet at this time, and it’s available in the F-Droid store: Telegram. Telegram is a cross-platform app that does all of which I described above and more. You can use it across devices and via a website version, but if you want real security with it, you want to use its “Secret Chat” feature which encrypts the message you send “client side” (on the device) instead of at Telegram’s servers. It also allows for “self-destructing” messages (messages that disappear after a set amount of time), and makes full use of emoji and other trappings that modern mobile messaging software has. While some raise concerns over how new the encryption algorithm that Telegram uses is, this is a case where I feel attitude wins the day. Pavel Durov, the creator and proprietor of Telegram, is a known anarchist, and certainly wishes to have no dealings with the NSA, or any government organization of its like, or any government at all. This stands in stark contrast to many other “secure and private” messaging apps that are run and coded by people that think “some form of government and spying” is still necessary. Anarchism is all about the individual’s liberties trumping all other concerns…apps made by people with that mindset are rare and should be desirable. Telegram is an important part of a Dark Android setup, in my opinion. In fact, Telegram has become a full-on platform now, with bots that you can develop for it, as well as the creation of channels where you can share information in a “one-way” fashion with followers of your work. There’s even a Dark Android Channel on Telegram! Just search for @DarkAndroid, and you’ll be able to keep up with all of the latest–and even some exclusive stuff–from every section of this site.

(DISCLAIMER: I’m aware that many people have reservations about whether Telegram is actually useful for encrypted messaging, and they call Telegram’s encryption into question. If you feel that way, I completely understand, so instead I suggest you consider Telegram as a new open platform for communication, and perhaps as even a social media replacement of sorts. If you don’t trust its encryption, then use it under the auspices of what it actually unquestionably is good at, and just do so with an anonymous name.)

9. TORRENTS

One of my favorite desktop torrent clients is now available on F-Droid, the open-source client qBitTorrent. It’s a very basic client, but it does the job and works well with IceCat. No need for fanciness here. This is the one.

10. GAMING

Gaming was mentioned earlier, so let’s talk about it. What good is a device if you can’t have a little fun with it? There are a couple of options available here for this. The first is using an emulator (which allows you to play games from classic gaming systems and consoles). For this, the open-source RetroArch is an easy choice. It has emulators for multiple consoles and systems (including the first PlayStation), and games largely work very well on it. How do you get the games? You torrent them with the above-mentioned qBitTorrent, of course! Lots and lots of fun is to be had with a lot of these classic games.

If you’re wanting to play more modern Android-based games, the Humble Bundle app is soon going to be a separate app that you can install from the website much like you had to with Disconnect.me and F-Droid itself. Games available from Humble Bundle can be purchased with Bitcoin (and other ways), so your anonymity doesn’t get broken from buying games from a service. And we’re not talking about oddball games here, these are AAA games available for Android, some of which you can’t even get in the Play Store regardless of popularity. You can also download the games without the Humble Bundle app and install them on your device since they are DRM-free. Humble Bundle definitely makes Dark Android a lot more fun.

11. EMAIL

Another very important topic for a device is email. Fortunately, the best email app on Android is also the free, open-source, and full featured K-9 Mail app. There’s not much you can’t do with K-9. You can even pair it with the OpenKeychain app to allow for PGP encryption of your emails. The OpenKeychain app is ridiculously easy to use, and it beautifully guides you through the process of creating a key pair to encrypt your emails with, or for you to import your various keys. OpenKeychain is far and away the easiest key management tool out there…it’s even better than desktop implementations. There are some web-based solutions to consider, as well, however. In the past I have recommended using Whiteout.io (which has recently shut down), Protonmail.ch, and Tutanota.de as they are all encryption-based email solutions that allow you to setup your PGP-key right from your device, but with the ease of key creation that OpenKeychain allows for, I don’t think they are really needed at all anymore. Remember, PGP encryption is about the best form of encryption we know of to date, so its use is very attractive on a Dark Android device, and all of the above makes that very possible with very little work. Really, as far as messaging goes, PGP-encrypted emails are still the best encrypted communication option out there, so if you really don’t like the suggestions under the Messaging section of this project, just stick with the easy-to-use K-9 Mail/OpenKeychain option. Seemingly everybody has an email address these days, after all.

12. OFFICE

Here’s where Dark Android falters. There really aren’t any “great” spreadsheet apps to be used offline in the F-Droid repository. Of course you could use throwaway accounts and access Microsoft Office online through IceCat, but nothing that really stands out on the offline end of things. NoNonsense Notes is about the best “writing” app available on F-Droid, and will serve your basic writing needs, but this is definitely an area where app development is needed. If you are just doing writing, another option (though not available offline) that I’d recommend is ProtectedText.com. They are doing encryption right, and it allows you to access your notes/writing on any other device in a secure fashion. It’s a web-based solution, but worth looking at.

13. KEYBOARD

What are you going to do all of that writing with? An onscreen keyboard for starters, of course. Onscreen keyboards are potentially one of the biggest security/privacy holes on any mobile device as its tough to know whether or not someone, or a company, is logging what you type! The best recommendation that I can make in this area is the Hacker’s Keyboard. It has autocorrect and dictionary features, and it actually gives you a complete QWERTY keyboard, with all of the keys you’d expect on a desktop/laptop PC. This alone is a rarity, but as it is open-source and has been checked out over the years, it’s about the only keyboard you can use with some (again, some) semblance of trust.

14. READING

On any portable device, I enjoy reading. Be it ebooks or comic books, mobile devices function exceptionally well for that. If you’re reading ebooks, Cool Reader is the app for you. It accepts quite a few different formats, and is a good barebones ereader. For comic books (again, you can download those via torrent), you want to use Comics Reader. Comics Reader is surprising feature-rich, and is also good for reading PDF files.

15. BITCOIN

For some, this may be the most important part of Dark Android, and for good reason. Cryptocurrencies, which Bitcoin is the original, really do allow people to get their hands on things and pay for services with security, privacy, and anonymity in tow. It’s an amazing technology, to say the least, and it’s something you want to make sure you do right. In the F-Droid store there are a few options, the best being Greenaddress.it. You can also download Mycelium onto your Android device form their site (not from F-Droid), which is probably the best Android-based wallet out there right now. There’s even a Coinbase wallet v1.0 in F-Droid, but I don’t recommend using that as it is no longer in development (and their newer app isn’t open-source), and Coinbase’s mobile website works very well for just about everything you’d want a wallet to do (if you feel the need to use Coinbase). But something you may want to consider, and in future Dark Android articles you’ll see the even greater importance of this, is using the web-based wallet: RushWallet. RushWallet gives you control of your private keys (unlike some other web-based solutions), and also allows you to access your wallet wherever you can enter the web address for your wallet. It works exceptionally well in IceCat, and is the single easiest Bitcoin wallet to set up anywhere. I am a huge fan of the service, and it keeps you from worrying about having to possibly “throwaway” your Dark Android device and losing all of your Bitcoin in the process. It’s an elegant solution that was wide ramifications. But your choice in wallet is up to your comfort level, and luckily the options are there for Dark Android.

16. MUSIC and PODCASTS

To listen to music, Cyanogenmod comes pre-installed with a great option: Apollo. It’s also available in the F-Droid store, and is really the way to go if you have an offline music collection. If you want to use some music streaming solutions, accessing music streaming websites through IceCat is an option (Soundcloud, etc.). As for podcasts, AntennaPod does a great job and has nice minimalist look to it that lets you easily sort through the largest of podcast collections, has a solid search feature, and is available in the F-Droid store.

17. FACEBOOK

Well, I suppose you really can’t talk about mobile devices without talking about the evil ubiquity that is Facebook. Some people may still wish to use this monstrosity of social media, and if you do, I’ll cover how you can in the most secure and anonymous way. As we said earlier in this Project, much of the more “modern” services that you’d like to use with your Dark Android device will be accessed via your web browser. And one of the handy things about one of the web browsers that I recommend–Orfox from The Guardian Project–it already has a built-in bookmark on its homescreen for Facebook’s Tor site. Amazingly, Facebook does have a Tor site (which I think they run to collect metadata, but that’s true no matter which version of the Facebook page you use). Running Facebook from a web browser instead of the app you are used to using has advantages that are true whether you’re doing a Dark Android setup or not. The first advantage is that the Facebook web page doesn’t drain your battery as much as the Facebook and Messenger app does. Which, speaking of Messenger, that’s the second advantage: You can access Facebook messages without a separate, permissions-hungry app. I run Facebook this way regardless of what mobile device I’m using, Dark Android or not. Just be careful how “anonymous” you are with the false Facebook name (if you wish to use a false one), as strange names are known to raise red flags at Facebook HQ, so don’t go too crazy with that. Regardless, Facebook is very easy to run from a Dark Android device thanks to The Guardian Project, but do use with caution.

Another option to consider that has recently become available is the use of Facebook’s own Facebook Lite app, which I have discussed on how to use no matter what country you live in (as it is designed for developing markets), and I do recommend it. There is also an app in the F-Droid store called Facebook Slim that is a webpage in an app wrapper, which you may find more to your liking, and the code is open and sound.

18. TWITTER

Out of most of the options you have for social media, Twitter is clearly the “least of all evils” (barring that they don’t get bought out by Alphabet). No matter how you use it, Twitter has “perfect forward secrecy” built-in, which is comforting. Much like we described with Facebook, we will be accessing Twitter via its website using Orfox or IceCat. While Twitter doesn’t have a specific Tor site, Orfox particularly will already be sending your traffic through Tor, anyways. The Twitter app that is in the Google Play Store allows for the use of Tor with it which doesn’t help us with Dark Android, but I do appreciate that Twitter makes that possible, even officially. While Twitter is limited to 140 characters to share updates, its really a winner now in that it allows for group messaging and unlimited characters in its Direct Message feature, which makes it a popular messaging and contact solution that works exceptionally well from the mobile website. If you must use social media, Twitter is an easy winner with Dark Android.

19. GOOGLE+ and TUMBLR

If you want to access Google+…just don’t do it. There is a mobile site for it, but our goal with Dark Android is too get you as much away from Alphabet as possible, and using Google+ is largely considered unnecessary. Tumblr on the other hand can easily be accessed through your web browser, and honestly I think it looks best on mobile browsers.

20. VIDEO STREAMING

This is a much requested feature for Dark Android since the release of Meerkat and Twitter’s Periscope. At this time, this is not possible. I put this section here to let you know that I’m aware of the desire for it, and I will definitely be keeping an eye on developments in the video streaming area and will update this section as necessary.

THAT’S IT…FOR NOW

More activities and app needs will be added in the future. QR code scanning, camera, weather, IRC, and others will all be listed here, so check back often if you don’t see what you are looking for. Also, the Dark Android Blog section will mention when new things are added to this main site of DarkAndroid.info.

Again, take what you want from this. If you want to use it all on a smartphone, go ahead. This is a starting point for how to use a device with actual security, anonymity, and privacy, and is meant to be on the extreme side…that doesn’t mean you have to be. With all things, do your own research and form your own opinions. This is just a guide. But it’s an important once since we live in a world where all manner of organizations, companies, and governments want to know everything they can about you. It’s an ugly system known as “corporatism”, and any steps you can take to not feed the system are truly heroic deeds.

OTHER SITES TO VISIT:

Sovryn Tech’s Dark Android II Episode: An overview of the Dark Android Project.

prism-break.org: Great site showing open-source alternatives for multiple operating systems.

alternativeTo: Another great site showing alternatives to popular software for multiple operating systems.

fossDroid: All open-source, all Android, all the time. Great resource if you’re just concerned about using open-source apps, and not concerned about privacy and anonymity.