The Ten Most Popular Android Apps in Cuba

There’s a green robot with antennae everywhere you look. In the mobile phone repairers’ ads, on certain nice T-shirts, and even staring at us from the windshields of some cars.

Not only does the Android app show up in many places in Cuba, the Google operating system has also grown in popularity over the last year. The creature based on Linux lives in a good share of the smartphones entering the country, legally or illegally.

If we take a look at what’s inside these Smartphones, we note the prevalence of applications that work off-line. Local users prefer those that work without access to the Internet, to ease the limitations of living on the “Island of the disconnected.”

There is a great demand for maps throughout the country, encyclopedias with images, translators into various languages, role-play games and tools for everyday life.

After inquiring among several users and cellphone repairers, I can offer a list of the ten most popular Android applications in Cuba.

WikiDroyd: A version of the well-known interactive encyclopedia Wikipedia, which includes not only the texts but the images. It works without an Internet connection, although it must be downloaded to the phone’s database. If you just ask the technician, it will include the version most used in Spanish with almost two gigabytes of data.

EtecsaDroyd: A pirated copy of the telephone directory from the Cuban phone company ETECSA. It has the complete name, identity card number, and even the home address of each subscriber. Although this information should be protected and not for public use, every year it’s leaked and ends up on the computers and phones of thousands of people. One more example of the many prohibited things that so many Cubans do.

WiFi Hacker: A tool for hacking WiFi networks and getting free access to the web. It may seem somewhat useless in a country where there are few wireless connections to the Internet… but you never know.

Revolico: An unauthorized version of the ad site Revolico.com. With a simple interface, this app lets you download the ads for buying and selling things in different categories. It has spread rapidly, given the growing illegal or alternative market versus the extremely expensive and poorly stocked State markets.

Go SMS Pro: A magnificent messaging utility to send SMS and MMS text messages. Much better than the native Android application for this use. Clear background, multiple themes to change the graphic interface, spell-checker and even a nice pop-up configuration that alerts you to new messages coming in.

ASTRO File manager: Lets you manage the files on a cellphone or tablet. For those who like to search in folders or directories, this applications helps with that task. Delete, copy, rename and find files, all with just a few clicks.

Photo Studio: Crop a photo, apply a nice color filter to it, or simply retouch it, it’s never been so easy. You have the option of taking a high-definition photo and reducing it to a size you can send by text MMS (Multimedia Messaging System), which in Cuban only accepts images of about 300 kilobytes.

OfficeSuite Pro: For those who take their office with them everywhere this is a magnificent tool to write, make notes and jot down ideas that come to mind in the most amazing places. It allows you also to create and read files in Excel, PowerPoint and Adobe Reader.

Linterna (Flashlight): In dark theaters where there are no ushers or on unlit stairs, this simple flashlight will save you from tripping. With features like this we see that a phone can also work in a very simple but essential way.

OsmAnd: This is one of a series of very valuable applications that offer offline maps. Others include OruxMaps, City Maps 2Go, MapDroyd and Soviet Military Pro. Although GPS satellite service is not available, a pretty good geo-locating function works through triangulating off cellphone towers. It includes really detailed street maps of the principal Cuban streets, but in rural areas the road descriptions are not as accurate. In a country with badly signed roads and streets… this tool is almost a miracle.

14 thoughts on “The Ten Most Popular Android Apps in Cuba

  1. Hank,

    I didn’t know about a “head of state” defense.

    But I agree totally with Fowler, the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down was a personal vendetta and nothing else.

  2. Neutral Observer,

    I think the beauty of Fowler’s analysis is its simplicity.

    The crux of Fowler’s argument, as I understand it, is that Castro murdered three American citizens and one permanent resident over the Florida straits on February 24, 1996. There is no statute of limitations for the crime of murder. The US District Attorney for the Southern District of Florida can indict Castro whenever he sees fit. Ample evidence exists to do just that. It is not necessary to reach crimes against humanity to get Castro.

    We used a similar legal approach with Manuel Noriega of Panama. We also got the murderer gangster Al Capone in the same way. He was indicted for tax evasion and was eventually imprisoned.

    Fowler describes in detail the statutory requirements that are required for indicting a person like Castro for murder. All of the statutory requirements are met in this case. Importantly, Fowler deals with the “head of state” or “sovereign immunity” defense and shows, quite conclusively in my opinion, that it does not apply to Castro because he was not acting as a head of state when he murdered those American citizens. Rather, he was acting in his own personal capacity in his own personal interest. In other words, the murder of American citizens in 1996 by Castro was an extra-governmental act that he committed which does not qualify for any kind of head of state immunity.

    You are probably right that no indictment will be forthcoming in the current political climate. Maybe that will change.

  3. I wonder if George Fowler 1st and George Fowler 2nd were cranks….
    Coz George Fowler 3rd definitely is.
    He’s a joker.
    A full-on, one eyed, hypocritical, joker.

    I predict that he will make a few bucks from his little book,
    then disappear back into obscurity.

    His main priority must surely be making a few bucks from his book.
    In this endeavour I would wish him all the very best…
    Apart from this money making exercise,
    this individual is an eccentric, little crank.

    The desperate just got nuthin better to do than keep clutching at straws.
    In the case of this particular, sad, individual,,,,,
    …..little, wishy-washy, crank straws.

    I wish you lots of money Mr ‘short sentences’ Fowler….
    As for the interviewer…
    what a butt licking joke.

  4. Change cannot be stopped. The regime fears everything, including its own people. It is a very dangerous idea for the regime to tolerate even a small group of people to have free access to the internet. They must feel fear of losing control of the information, and the internet is very difficult to control. Yoani, is right, they have lost the monopoly on information.

  5. Hank,

    I’m interested to read the author’s grounds, are they related to crimes against US civilians or crimes against humanity in general?

    Leaving aside what he did to Cubans, Castro’s creation of terrorist organizations like the FALN (founded by Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, a Cuban operative) who blew up innocent people in New York is sufficient grounds for him to receive the Bin Laden treatment.

    Because of international politics, I am not optimistic about justice being served in this case or any other regarding the Castros.

    But we should not remain silent and let the Castro worshipers bury his crimes either.

    And there’s a better chance some of the terrorists who carried out Castro’s orders will one day be brought to trial.

  6. YOUTUBE AUDIO INTERVIEW: “Wake Up With WURD” with Stephanie Renée Interviews George J. Fowler III about Cuba and his book …

    BOOK: “My Cuba Libre Bringing Fidel Castro To Justice” – by George J. Fowler III – The Quest To Oust Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro and Bring Him to Justice! On January 1, 1959, nine-year-old George Fowler was awakened in his ancestral home by the sound of gunshots as Fidel Castro’s army approached Havana, Cuba. His family fled to the United States to start new lives as Castro established a brutal regime in their beloved country. As chief legal counsel for the Cuban American National Foundation, Fowler has dedicated his life to the cause of Cuban freedom. My Cuba Libre is the very personal story of his lifelong battle to remove the dictator from power and bring democracy to his homeland. Fowler exposes the monstrous actions of the Communist Party of Cuba and makes a firm case for indicting Castro for crimes against humanity. Fowler also provides a first-hand account of events like the Elián González case, the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down, and Cuban embargo negotiations. With boldness and courage, My Cuba Libre attacks the status quo that has allowed Castro to remain on the world stage–and makes a powerful argument for immediate change. “I write to raise awareness of our struggle, to convince the world to take action. Fidel Castro cannot be allowed to spend his final years in luxury and power. Whoever becomes his successor after his death will only continue his legacy of bloodshed, cruelty, and hate. We must act now to bring freedom to the people of Cuba.”

  7. REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS INTERNET ENEMIES: Cuba – Monday 12 March 2012.

    A digital cold war is being played out against a backdrop of demonizing the Internet and social networks, which are accused of having a destabilising influence and being orchestrated by the American enemy. Will the arrival of the Venezuelan fiber-optic cable call into question the “rationing” of the Internet, which remains out of reach for the majority of the population? The creation of a tightly controlled Cuban Web 2.0 tends to indicate that the regime has no intention of making any concessions with regard to communications.

    Pressures and defamation campaigns against critical bloggers

    Pro-government bloggers are waging a non-stop battle on the Internet against “alternative” bloggers critical of the authorities. The regime is preventing most of its citizens from gaining access to the Internet and is occupying the field in order to leave no cyberspace for dissidents (see the Cuba chapter in the 2011 “Enemies of the Internet” report). However, although less than 2% of Cubans have access to the World Wide Web, a growing number of them have found creative ways to connect with the Internet and visit the social networks.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE REPORT!

    http://en.rsf.org/cuba-cuba-12-03-2012,42058.html

  8. EXCELLENT MINI DOCUMENTARY ON THE LACK OF INTERNET IN CUBA! SORRY, SPANISH ONLY!

    YOUTUBE: DOCUMENTARY “OFF LINE” Official Video

  9. EXCELLENT MINI DOCUMENTARY ON THE LACK OF INTERNET IN CUBA! SORRY, SPANISH ONLY!

    YOUTUBE: DOCUMENTAL “OFF LINE” Official Video – Dirigido por la joven realizadora Yaima Pardo, OFFLINE es un documental sobre ( la falta de ) Internet en Cuba. “Off Line”, así decidimos nombrar nuestro documental para referirnos al estado en el que nos encontramos la mayoría de los cubanos en materia de conectividad, esta frase se utiliza en situaciones en las que la conexión con actividades computarizadas está fuera de servicio. Vivimos desconectados en pleno 2013 y es inquietante que Internet se presente como un gran enigma para todos y la idea de poder tenerlo de forma masiva sea distante y se hunda en el horizonte junto al misterioso cable de fibra óptica.
    Este documental parte de una preocupación urgente, porque nos estamos quedando rezagados y muy lejos de participar activamente en la sociedad de la información para todos, y de poder influir como pueblo en su evolución hacia la sociedad del conocimiento, siendo así excluidos de los beneficios y libertades que esto implica para los seres humanos del siglo XXI.

  10. I just finished George Fowler’s brilliant new book “My Cuba Libre Bringing Fidel Castro To Justice”. I highly recommend this book.

    Mr. Fowler’s thesis is the United States should indict Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and bring him to justice before he dies. Numerous grounds for such an indictment exist, which Mr. Fowler explains in his book. Castro’s crimes have placed him squarely within the jurisdiction of the United States. I could not agree more and do not understand why the District Attorney for the Southern District of Florida does not act right away.

    The Mission Statement of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida states:

    “The mission of the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida, is to enforce and defend the laws of the United States of America through the prosecution of criminal cases brought by the Federal government…”

    I hope they live up to that statement.

  11. BUT THERE IST SMALL PRINT ON THE LAST PAGE…

    I was using OsmAnd some time ago and must say that the Cuban users made the right pick here. Good product, worth endorsing.

    The right pick for users, such as Yoani. Not so good for cuban developers (it’s open source).
    When you check the http://osmand.net/ site you will notice they host their project on Google Code.

    Anything wrong with that?
    Not all all. Millions of developers across the world host on Google. Millions… except of Cubans.

    Look how Google treats cuban developers:
    “Users residing in countries on the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control sanction list, including Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria, may not post or access Content available through the Google Code website.”

    Right here:
    http://code.google.com/projecthosting/terms.html

    THE REAL PURPOSE OF THE BLOCKADE OF CUBA:
    Let them be dumb users. Do not let them be contributing developers.

  12. Free internet access among the Cuban population is not one of the goals of the Castroit regime. The regime overwhelming regulation of the internet, with minimal access, make it one of the worst in the world.

    Those who want to use the Internet have to go through “access points” control by the regime, and their activity is carefully monitored by blocking IPs or by using different filters. Only pro-government blogger’s and government employees can upload information on the Internet.

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