F-Droid maintains a repository of free and open source (FOSS) Android apps, and the F-Droid client for Android devices basically functions as an alternative to the default app store on most Android devices: the Google Play Store.

But up until recently, F-Droid lacked one of the Play Store’s key features: the ability to automatically install updates to the apps on your phone without your needing to open the F-Droid client. Now that feature has arrived.

Starting with F-Droid client version 1.19.0 for Android, the app supports automatic background updates on devices running Android 12 or later.

That means that when app developers release updates with bug fixes, new features, or other changes, F-Droid can install them automatically the same way the Google Play Store does. Well, kind of.

As Mishaal Rahman explains, F-Droid 1.19.0 is using an API that Google introduced in Android 12 which allows third-party app stores to perform app updates in the background without any user intervention. But it doesn’t sound like F-Droid is using the newer “gentle update” functionality introduced in Android 14 yet, which allows third-party app stores to detect the best times to perform those updates. So there’s a chance that your phone or tablet might try to update an app while you’re using that app, for example. Hopefully future versions of F-Droid will take advantage of the latest API for a smoother automatic update experience though.

F-Droid also notes that “older apps that can’t be updated will feature a banner explaining why,” so it seems like not every app installed via F-Droid will support automatic background updates.

via F-Droid and @[email protected]

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  1. As long as there are options, it’s fine. I’ve had enough trouble with updates over the years, automatic and otherwise, that I don’t like to update very often. Auto is worse though for me. But if this is something people want and will use, then it’s a good thing to add.

    1. Definitely better from a security perspective – people should at least read the release notes for each update to check what it is they’re enabling on their device – but if this makes it more likely that more of the overwhelming number of people who currently use the Play Store switch to f-droid, that’s already a great first step!

    2. It’s better for those who actually do it, but not for people who can’t be bothered to ever install any updates. I don’t mind occasionally going into the updates page and press some buttons, but I know people who will never do that, have turned automatic updates off, and then call me when something they haven’t updated in years stops working. They’ll also call me if it asks them to update. It’s useful to offer the option.