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Focus Go is the free photo gallery app I've always wanted

It's lightweight, simple, and made by the famous "Franco" or Franco kernels.

Published onApril 17, 2024

Some of you may remember the name Francisco Franco from the early mod-heavy days of Android and the famous “Franco kernel” releases. Over the years, Francisco has released several other apps, too, including a powerful photo gallery app called Focus. But development on that has stalled for a while now, and while we wait for the fully reworked Focus, we have a lighter sibling to tide us over: Focus Go. And Focus Go is exactly what I want from a gallery app on Android.

For my use case, Focus Go is the perfect replacement for many gallery apps like Simple Gallery, an excellent app that was sold off and is now filled with ads; the beautiful Memoria, which hasn’t been updated in years; or even Google’s own Gallery, a lesser-known local equivalent to Google Photos.

What I find unique about Focus Go is that it takes simplicity to a whole other level. The app lets me view photos and videos from my phone’s storage, add to favorites, share, and control video playback speed.

There are no superfluous extras, edits, multiple sorting methods, or anything else. You only get a couple of settings to change the number of columns, customize the thumbnail’s corner radius, group by folder or date, and improve the viewing experience (higher quality thumbnails, HDR, and max brightness when viewing media). Oh, and it follows my phone’s light or dark theme. That’s it.

Focus Go is a simple gallery app that's blazing fast, lightweight, free, ad-free, and doesn't require extra permissions.

For that, you get the kind of Android app we don’t see anymore: Focus Go is free and will remain so, is ad-free, weighs only a few Megabytes, and has minimal permission requirements. It obviously needs access to your storage, and it has an internet permission for those who want to make a donation to Francisco. There are no incomprehensible requests to use your location, camera, microphone, or contacts. The app is blazing fast as a result of this very lighthanded approach.

I like this a lot. When I’m looking for a photo gallery app, I just want it to be that and do that. I already use Google Photos for most of my photo/video browsing and editing needs, but it’s not as fast or efficient for accessing local files stored in my Screenshots or WhatsApp folders, for example. A secondary gallery app needs to get out of the way and give me as little headache as possible, and Focus Go does that perfectly.

This is the kind of Android app we don't see anymore.

After years of hanging on to Memoria and knowing it would be obsolete sooner or later, I’ve finally uninstalled it. Focus Go is the app I’m now using to access my screenshots and local photos. It’s also the one I’ll be recommending to anyone who asks me for a local photo gallery app. And it’s a strong contender to replace Google’s Gallery on my parents’ and family members’ phones — I keep them away from Photos because I don’t want them to delete their memories inadvertently and mess with their backups.

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