If you are an Android user, the Google Play Store is the most secure and convenient way to get apps. However, Google has security holes, too, as proven with all the deleted malware and spyware apps in 2020 that copied other apps, changed their names, and injected malware. However, there are several ways to obtain what you need if you despise the Play Store or it doesn’t have the app you desire.
This article will explain how to download your Android apps from sources other than Google Play.
Modify Your Android Settings to Download Apps Outside Google Play
The Android operating system doesn’t allow you to download any apps outside of Play Store by default. After all, why would Google want that option? Since all other methods are not as reliable, you should venture beyond the Play Store with care.
Before you start sideloading apps, you have to modify the system settings on your Android device. There are a few different methods, depending on your Android version. We’ll review the methods for various versions below.
Install from Unknown Sources in Android 10
- Swipe down from the top of your screen and tap on the Settings cog.
- Scroll down and tap on Biometrics and security.
- Tap on Install unknown apps.
- Tap on the application that you’ll use to download the files.
- Tap the toggle switch next to Allow from this source.
Install from Unknown Sources in Android 8.0 Oreo
- Go to the Settings in your app menu.
- Find and select the Apps & notifications menu.
- Tap Advanced.
- Select Special app access.
- Tap Install unknown apps.
- Choose the internet browser that you will use for the third-party stores.
- Turn on Allow from this source.
The above steps allow your browser to get apps from sources other than Google Play. Android 8 controls the installation permissions through individual apps rather than all of them at once, so you need to allow the browser to perform installations.
Install from Unknown Sources in Android 7.0 Nougat, 6.0 Marshmallow, or Older
With older Android versions (7.0 Nougat or lower), the system doesn’t split the sources. Instead, you have to trigger an option for downloading files from all available sources.
- Go to Settingsfrom the menu.
- Tap Security.
- Turn on Unknown sources.
Using the above steps, you will have access to any APKs you want to install, as long as they are compatible with your device. This option can put your device at risk since it allows all unknown sources to store files rather than on an app-by-app basis. If your smartphone is not protected enough, it could get infected.
NOTE: You CAN disable unknown sources after the third-party installation is complete. However, updates for the app may require the option to be enabled again.
Where to Sideload an APK file
An Android Package Kit (APK) is an executable file that installs an Android app. The Play Store downloads and installs them automatically for you. When using the sideloading technique, you will have to find a suitable repository.
The Top Four Android Third-Party App Stores/Repositories
- APK Mirror is a reliable website where you can find legal APKs. Most of them are older versions of current Play Store apps. They are entirely legal to download and usually risk-free.
- Aptoide is a gigantic APK database where you can find stuff that doesn’t exist on the Play Store. This place is decentralized and presents potential security risks, so you should always double-check each download before opening the file.
- Amazon’s official Appstore offers countless paid and free apps. You can also get some premium apps for free with specific Amazon giveaways and promotions.
- APKPure has more categories than Google Play Store and carries many popular apps, such as TikTok, PUB Mobile, etc. There are many filters to choose from, and it features a friendly graphical user interface (GUI).
Where to Find Sideloaded APK files
Most APK downloaders like Aptoide or APKPure will automatically install the app once you download it, just like the Play Store. Occasionally, the APK will save into your smartphone’s download folder, which you can activate yourself, assuming you were not prompted to install the app.
To access the default download folder on most Android versions, do the following:
- Tap on your default file explorer app from within the app menu.
- Navigate to the Downloads folder. Here you will find all of your latest downloaded files.
- Click on the app’s APK file to start the installation process. Follow the prompts.
NOTE: Android cleaning apps may delete APK files by default to save space. If you use one, be sure to exclude your download folder or APKs in general.
The Galaxy Store
Samsung users have an alternative to the Google Play Store called the Galaxy Store. When you don’t want to use the Google Play Store, you can access the Galaxy Store and download your favorite apps without having to install an .APK.
To download the apps, simply locate the one that you want and tap the download icon. Then, you will find the application in your app drawer.
Common APK Installation FAQs
The Android operating system has a lot of functionality, especially when it comes to installing applications. We’ve included this section to review some of the more frequently asked questions.
Why would you want to install apps outside of the Play Store?
One reason to use a third-party app store on Android is that certain apps do not comply with Google Play’s terms and requirements, but that does not mean that they are risky or dangerous. Another common reason is that the developer saves money using third-party app stores. After all, Google obtains a big chunk of commissions and other expenses, partially because of its dominance in the operating system. Regardless, there is still a risk whenever you install an app outside of Google Play. Downloading an app from places other than Google Play is referenced as sideloading.
Recently, interest in sideloading rose again with the global popularity of the game Fortnite. The game is available for Android, but you need to download it from the official website instead of the Play Store. Of course, this decision was by choice due to Google’s policies and costs.
How Safe Are APK Files?
APK files are generally safe if you download them from reliable sources. For example, APK mirror contains secure APK files, but they are older versions of Play Store apps.
On the other hand, Aptoide is an open-source downloader that isn’t screened or controlled. Therefore, malicious files can slip through there.
You can always scan the file with an antivirus app on your device before you open it. However, the reliability of an antivirus scan is never 100%, and each security app has different detection methods and threat databases.
What do I do if I accidentally delete the Google Play Store?
Fortunately, it’s only possible to disable the Google Play Store and not actually delete it. If you do not see the Google Play Store in your app drawer, you need to head to your “Settings“ and enable it again.
1. To do this, tap on Apps, then tap on Disabled to quickly locate the Google Play Store.
2. Tap on it, then tap on Enable.
Apps on Android Without Google Play
In closing, the potential risks of installing third-party applications are why Android does not allow you to download files from unknown sources by default. Google Play Store is still the most reliable way to get your apps, but it is not bulletproof when it comes to security. Regardless, you may not have a choice if you are looking for an app that is not available on the Play Store.
Although Android and Google Play are linked, you can download and manage certain apps on an Android device without using Google Play. With a few taps, some settings adjustments, and a third-party play store, you’ll have just what you need to download apps without Google Play.
- Download and install the APKMirror Installer app (or other preferred third-party app) from the Google Play Store. ...
- Visit the APKMirror website and search for an app you want to install on your Android device. ...
- Browse apps by APK, app, and developer names.
It appears to be an issue with Google's Android operating system. To fix the “your device is not compatible with this version” error message, try clearing the Google Play Store cache, and then data. Next, restart the Google Play Store and try installing the app again.Can I use Android without Google Play services? ›
You'll need to install a custom build of Android and use specific apps and mods to replace Google's. But if you're concerned about security and privacy, you actually can use Android without Google Play Services.Which app can I use instead of Google Play? ›
- 1 APKMirror.
- 2 Samsung Galaxy Store.
- 3 TapTap.
- 4 Amazon App Store.
- 5 F-Droid.
- 6 SlideMe.
- 7 AppBrain.
- 8 Itch.io.
The most popular Android Store alternatives are not limited to: APKMirror. Amazon Appstore. F-Droid.How to install APK file on Android? ›
If you want to use an app that's not available in the Google Play Store on the Android Emulator, you can manually install the APK file. To install an APK file on the emulated device, drag an APK file onto the emulator screen. An APK Installer dialog appears.How to download apps on Android for free? ›
You can download no-charge and paid apps from Google Play on your Android phone or tablet. We recommend that you get apps from Google Play, but you can also get them from other sources.How to download paid apps for free on Android without root? ›
- Aptoide App Store. One of the more popular third-party app stores is Aptoide, which is a direct competitor of the Google Play Store. ...
- Blackmart. ...
- AppSales. ...
- Paid Apps Gone Free. ...
- Google Opinion Rewards.
- Method 01: Use a VPN program to install country-restricted applications.
- Method 02: Download and Install the APK files directly.
- Method 03: Use a Play Store alternative to install incompatible apps.
- Method 04: Upgrade your Android Operating System.
- Clear Google Play Store's Cache and Data.
- Uninstall Google Play Store Updates.
- Delete Google Services Framework's Cache and Data.
- Update Android Version.
- Sideload the “Incompatible” App.
- Install a Custom ROM on Your Android Device.
- Update Android OS. ...
- Corrupt Google Play Store Cache. ...
- Force Stop Google Play Store. ...
- Reset Google Services Framework on Android. ...
- Delete Google Services Framework Cache. ...
- Uninstall Play Store Updates. ...
- Sideload an App From the Web. ...
- Install a Custom ROM.
Murena One is a privacy-focused Android phone without Google apps and services. The developers of the /e/OS operating system have been offering an Android-based operating system stripped of Google's proprietary apps and services for five years.What is the best app store for Android? ›
- Amazon Appstore — (Learn More) ...
- Tencent MyApp — (Learn More) ...
- Huawei AppGallery. ...
- APKMirror. ...
- Samsung Galaxy Store. ...
- Sony Apps. ...
- Aptoide. Another popular choice among Android users is Aptoide. ...
- F-Droid. Last, but certainly not least, F-Droid!
Google Play Services connects apps to other Google services, like Google Sign In and Google Maps. Google Play Services isn't the same as the Google Play Store app, and is included with Android. Google Play Services doesn't make your battery drain faster or use too much of your mobile data plan.Which app store is safe for Android? ›
If you own an Android smartphone, then the place you go to get your apps is most likely the Google Play Store. It's the safest and most convenient, and you can generally rely on Google Play Protect to ensure that the apps you download are safe and won't harvest your data or take over your smartphone.What does Android have instead of app store? ›
Google Play Store
Although bundled with most Android devices, the Play Store is only available on devices that are certified within the "Android Compatibility Program".
You can get apps, games, and digital content for your device using the Google Play Store app. The Play Store app comes pre-installed on Android devices that support Google Play, and can be downloaded on some Chromebooks.What are third party apps for Android? ›
Third-party apps and services are created by companies or developers that aren't Google. For example, you may download an app that helps you schedule workouts with friends. This app may request access to your Google Calendar and Contacts to suggest times and friends for you to meet up with.What does APK stand for? ›
What is an APK file (Android Package Kit file format)? An APK file (Android Package Kit file format) is the file format for applications used on the Android operating system (OS).Why my phone is not installing any app? ›
These errors might be due to Google Play Store updates, Google cache issues, Google Play Store stored data issues, or Google account issues.
Confirm that no other apps are updating or installed in the Play Store. Clear the cache & data of the Play Store. Restart your phone. Check your storage space.Why Android cannot install apps? ›
The ''Can't Install App from google play store'' issue may sometimes pop-up on your screen if you recently installed an app that changed the app settings linked to the Google Play Store. You can resolve the problem in this case by deleting your current Google Account from your phone and adding it again.How to download free APK apps? ›
Tap and hold (or right-click on a computer) the field with the example URL and select Paste when it appears. The copied URL now appears in the field. Tap or click the blue Generate Download Link button. This locates the app you want to download and generates a link for saving the APK file.How do I bypass Google Play payment method? ›
- Open the Google Play app .
- At the top right, tap the profile icon.
- Tap Payments & subscriptions Payment methods More. Payment settings.
- If asked, sign in to Google Pay.
- Under the payment method you want to remove, tap Remove. Remove.
Rooting is a process that allows you to attain root access to the Android operating system code (the equivalent term for Apple devices is jailbreaking). It gives you privileges to modify the software code on the device or install other software that the manufacturer wouldn't normally allow you to.Can you install APK on Android without root? ›
Download the APK file from a trusted source (e.g., Google Play Store). 2. Open your device's Settings menu and go to Security > Unknown Sources, then toggle the switch on to allow installation of apps from sources other than Google Play Store.How do I install apps on Android that won't install? ›
- Check that you have a strong Wi-Fi or mobile data connection.
- Check your storage space.
- Check for Android system updates.
- Check if the app is available for your device.
- Uninstall & reinstall the app.
- Close & reopen the Play Store.
- Uninstall & reinstall Play Store updates.
- Restart your device.
- Open your Android device's file explorer app. ...
- Locate your APK file in your file explorer app and select it.
- The APK installer menu will appear—tap Install. ...
- Allow time for the app to install.
- Tap Done or Open once the installation is complete.
Open your device's Settings app and navigate to System > Advanced > Developer options > App Compatibility Changes. Select your app from the list. From the list of changes, find the change that you want to toggle on or off and tap the switch.What would you need to install if you have an app that is incompatible with your current operating system? ›
Therefore, the correct answer is D, a virtual machine. A virtual machine is a software program that allows you to run a different operating system within your current operating system.
When an app says it is not compatible with your device, that means there is something about your device that doesn't meet the app developer's requirement. That can include software versions of drivers, screen size, hardware (like NFC radios), or a lot of other things.Why can't I install games on my Android phone? ›
Clear the Play Store's cache and data
Most people don't clear the Play Store's cache and data regularly, but it's worth a shot if you're having trouble getting apps to download on your device. Doing this can help give the Play Store a fresh start if it's having trouble communicating with your device.
One common fix is to clear data and cache for the Play Store and Download Manager apps. You can access these app settings through the Settings Menu on your device, and then Apps or App Manager. For each app, tap Clear Cache and Clear Data. Once you've done this, restart your device and try downloading the game again.How to remove Google Play account? ›
- Open your device's Settings app.
- Tap Passwords & accounts. ...
- Under "Accounts," tap the account you want to remove. ...
- To confirm, tap Remove account. ...
- If this is the only Google Account on the device, you'll need to enter your device's pattern, PIN, or password for security.
Step 1: Open the Settings app on your Android phone or tablet. Step 2: Tap Apps, then tap Google Play Store. Step 3: Tap the Enable button to make Google Play Store appear on the Home screen and app drawer. Are you bothered by Google Play services keeps stopping or Google Play services has stopped?What happens if I disable Google Play Store? ›
When you disable the Google Play Store, its icon will disappear from your Android phone's home screen and app drawer. At the same time, you won't be able to update or install apps using Play Store. However, nothing will happen to existing apps. They will not be removed from your phone.Do all Android phones use Google? ›
Over 70 percent of smartphones based on Android Open Source Project run Google's ecosystem (which is known simply as Android), some with vendor-customized user interfaces and software suites, such as TouchWiz and later One UI by Samsung and HTC Sense.Do I need a Google Play account? ›
To get the most out of these services, you need a Google account. For example, a Google account enables you to do the following: Download and install applications on Google Play. Synchronize your email, contacts, and calendar using Gmail.How to install apps using USB debugging? ›
- Install ADB on Your Computer. First things first, you need to install ADB on your computer. ...
- Locate the APK File. Now it's time to locate the file you want to install on your Android device. ...
- Launch the Terminal. ...
- Connect to Your Android Device With ADB. ...
- Install the APK With ADB.
- Go to Settings.
- Find the Security & privacy option and tap on it.
- Scroll down and look for install from unknown apps. If it's not there, try under 'more'.
- You should be presented with a list of apps. ...
- Tap on it and then select Allow from this source.
APK, the file format used for Android apps, is not supported on iPhones. However, you can search for the same app on the App Store and download it from there. Alternatively, you can install an Android emulator for iOS and access the APK file from it.How can I download paid apps for free? ›
- Paid Apps Gone Free (PAGF)
- Google Opinion Rewards.
There are no restrictions on what content can be sideloaded.How do I sideload an app? ›
- Pull down notification shade and tap the gear icon in order to open the Settings.
- Tap "Apps & Notifications"
- (on Android 9, skip to step 4) Expand the Advanced menu.
- Choose "Special App Access"
- The bottom option should be "Install Unknown Apps." Tap this.
- Download the iOS on Android program to the desktop. ...
- On the system the "Program Files" folder is to be selected once the installer is launched. ...
- Once the installation has been finished launch the program.
- The Android is then to be connected to the PC with a USB cable.
- Take your compiled Android APK and upload it to MechDome in a compatible file format.
- Select whether you will create an iOS app for a simulator or a real iOS mobile device.
- It will then convert your Android app to an iOS app very quickly. MechDome also optimizes it for your selected device.
- You are done!
- Download an APK file you want to install in the IPA format.
- Install Cydia Impactor to sign in to your Apple account to use the IPA file.
- Connect your iPhone using either a Windows or a macOS.
- Now launch the Cydia Impactor application.
Cydia is an application that allows users to install software packages and cracked apps on jailbroken iOS devices. To get free apps on Cydia, you must first jailbreak your iOS device to install Cydia, then add repositories that can provide you with access to paid apps for free.Is Aptoide legal? ›
Yes, Aptoide is completely legal.