To install an app outside of the Play Store, you need a file called “APK” or Android Package Kit. If you’ve used a Windows PC before, think of the .apk file as the Android version of the .exe file on your computer or laptop.
For Mac users, they are equivalent to a .dmg file. Like any computer, Android will take the APK file, extract the software, and install the application you are using as if it had been downloaded and installed from the Play Store.
For added security, Android devices do not support the installation of applications from external sources not offered by Google. But if you’ve found an app you’d like to install, or don’t want to wait for an update to hit the Play Store, letting Android install APKs is simple and easy.
Step 1.Enable APK installation on Android
You don’t need root access or an unlocked bootloader to do this. Enabling third-party Android app capabilities is as easy as diving into settings if you know where to look. Therefore, open the settings menu by clicking the settings shortcut in the notification panel or by opening the settings in the application bar.
Once you’re in settings, you’ll want to scroll to the bottom of the settings menu and hit Security . If you cannot find the “Security” option, use the search function in the settings and enter “Security”. He should get you back from the security menu.
The security menu may seem a little daunting to begin with. There are many options here that might seem a little confusing to new Android users. Don’t worry – just scroll down to Unknown Sources under Device Administration.
You will see that the toggle for enabling the setting is currently disabled. When you click on this option, you will receive a pop-up message warning that “your device and your personal data are more vulnerable to application attacks from unknown sources.”
We’ll take a closer look at what that means below, but for now, click OK. The popup will disappear and you will see the switch is on. At this point, you can return home; you’re done messing with the settings.
Step two: download APKs over the Internet
As promised, let’s turn to the elephant in the room: third-party APKs can be dangerous and unsafe. One of the benefits of downloading apps exclusively from the Play Store is the ability to know and trust that the APK has been signed by Google.
Although the Play Store has been attacked by malware in the past, it is by far the safest way to install apps on Android. Obviously, it’s not a good idea to install random APKs online. There are many sites on the Internet that promise free paid apps, and even if some of these sites are legitimate, you don’t want to risk it.
Instead, if you want to install an APK from outside the Play Store, we recommend using sites that are known for providing quality APK downloads, such as APKMirror and APKPure.
These sites host unmodified APKs for free downloads, and are displayed when each app is signed by the manufacturer. APKMirror, in particular, is often used by XDA developers and modders to install new versions of applications before they appear in the Play Store.
To download the APK, you can either go to the source of the APK itself on your device, or download the file to your computer and transfer it to your phone or tablet like any other file. Some sites, like APKMirror, offer a QR code service that you can scan with your phone to automatically navigate from your device to the download site.
Once you find the download site, click “Download APK” to save the file to your system. Make sure the downloaded file ends with .apk. If you have downloaded a .zip or any other type of file, it can be dangerous and you are better off not using this download. If you have determined that your file is safe (at your own risk), you can click on the file either in the notification bar or where you saved it in your file browser.
Step three: install the APK
When you open the file, an installation pop-up will appear showing what the application will access. Take a look at this screen.
If you are installing an application that does not need or does not need access to the requested system architecture (for example, a calculator application that requests access to your contacts or camera), you should cancel the installation; you may have an application infected with malware.
Other apps, like Snapchat in my example, will need to ask for dozens of permissions to work properly. If something seems suspicious, you should avoid installing.
Once you’ve determined that the APK is safe based on the permissions required from the app, you can click Install to complete the installation. Most apps install in seconds, although larger apps may take a little longer.
After the application is installed, you will see a large notification that the installation process is complete and you can click Finish.
If you return home, you will see the app appear in the app drawer. From here, the application will work like any other application, with one exception: you will not receive updates for the installed application through the Google Play Store.
If you need to update the app, you need to find a newer APK version and install it. It will replace the current version of the application with the new one. Updates are installed in the same way as regular applications.
As we pointed out, there are many reasons for installing third-party apps on your phone or tablet. They can be a great way to test new apps that aren’t already in the Play Store, or beta versions of existing apps.
Some applications are slow to roll out updates to users, and some applications are limited to carrier or hardware options. Third-party sources are a great way to get around these restrictions and install an app that doesn’t usually work on the device you’re using.
However, these apps are not without their own privacy and security concerns. An important part of installing APKs from online sources is to use common sense. If the app has been jailbroken, modified, or asked for permissions that seem out of the ordinary, do not install the app.
However, as long as you stick to safe sources, you’ll find that installing an APK is a great option if the app you want isn’t already on the Play Store, or worse, if it’s not available on your device.
Installing APKs – One of the features that makes Android the preferred choice for many mobile operating systems is the freedom to install the apps you want on your device, without any manufacturer or carrier restrictions.