Fossify Apps: Replacing Simple Mobile Tools

The “Simple Mobile Tools” suite used to be a great source of basic apps that didn’t slurp up your data, clog up your apps with advertising, or charge exorbitant prices. They aren’t anymore.

At the end of 2023, the suite was sold to ZipoApps, a company known for acquiring existing apps and bloating them with all of those things. (Their TrustPilot reviews are an interesting mix of 5-stars from devs who sold them their apps, and 1-stars from customers complaining about unauthorized charges.)

Fortunately, the apps were GPL-licensed.

Forked!

Fossify forked the entire suite, cleaning up anything that’s not compatible license-wise, re-branding the original privacy-focused apps and picking up development.

The forked apps started making their way into F-Droid a week or two ago. The calendar, file manager and gallery were the first.

That was a relief. Back when I started moving my calendars from Google to Nextcloud, I settled on Simple Calendar. That went out the window when I read about the sale. I used Google Calendar for a few weeks – it least I knew what they were collecting – and installed Fossify Calendar as soon as I could do so without side-loading it.

Not Simple Anymore

In the meantime, ZipoApps has indeed started destroying the apps they bought, judging by the reviews. The top one for Simple Calendar today:

It originally said there would be a one-time payment of 2.99 after the free trial. I thought I’d gladly pay that so I continued to use it. When the trial was up I was given the option to buy not for the single payment of 2.99 but for $15/week! The app itself is exactly what I want over other calendars I’ve tried. And I would pay for adless, but over $2/day is insane. Banner ads would be tolerable but it has video ads when opening the app and adding an event. Wish I’d read the reviews.

(Emphasis added.) Before the sale, Simple Mobile Calendar did in fact have a single one-time payment option of a couple of dollars. $2.99 at the most.

The company replied:

Sorry to hear that the price for the Premium subscription seems high to you. Please, note that the App on the Premium version opens up many exciting features and opportunities for you and it is definitely worth the price. The Premium version has no ads. Thank you!

“Seems” high"? $15/week for a simple calendar is exorbitant.

Video advertisements on a basic tool are insane.

And who knows how much data they’re sucking up from your device and probably selling?

I hate this sort of business that purchases something only to strip it for parts and sell off the broken pieces at inflated prices. Destroying things for short-term gain only works until you run out of stuff to destroy and have to start over again. Building something? That’s got long-term potential.

It’s especially galling since the whole purpose of Simple Mobile Tools was to not do this.

Fossify Roll-Out

The Fossify apps are continuing to roll out on F-Droid, with Contacts, Phone (dialer) and SMS Messenger now available as well.

And the first two, Calendar and File Manager, have made it to the Play Store, though they’re technically still “early access” for now. I’ve switched over the two apps from F-Droid to bringup the download count and helo with open testing.