Installing APK files without using Google Play

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Installing APKs on an Android device is fairly simple

There could be several reasons why installing apps through Google Play is not an option. Maybe you don’t have an account, or the application you want to install is simply not available on the Play Store in the first place. Luckily, there is another way to install apps on your phone, and it’s fairly easy. However, please always make sure that you only install applications from trusted sources. Installing apps that are not on the Play Store happens at your own risk and may cause damage to your device.

What is an APK file?

Before we start, let’s take a look at what APK files actually are. APK stands for Android Package Kit, which is a package file format, similar to an executable file (EXE) on a PC, or package installer (PKG) on a Mac. The APK file format is the proprietary file format of the Android operating system.

Here’s how to install an APK file directly on your device

As mentioned before, installing an APK file on an Android device (from Android 8) is an easy and straightforward process.

  1. Make sure Unknown source installations are allowed in the settings. Go to Settings -> Apps & notifications -> Special app access -> Install unknown apps. There, tap Chrome and then activate the slider Allow from this source.
  2. Open Chrome and locate the APK file and download it onto your device.
  3. Open your file manager and navigate to the Downloads folder.
  4. Now tap on the app. Android will warn you about the potential risk when installing a third-party app from an unknown source. Tap Continue to proceed.
  5. Choose Install to start the installation.
  6. After the installation is complete you can now open the app, just like you would normally if it was installed from the app store.

Install APK’s from an SD card

There is another way to install an APK file on your device, although it is a little more inconvenient. If your device has no access to the internet, this is the way to go.

  1. After downloading the APK file on your computer, copy it over to an SD card.
  2. Put the SD card in your device. Some devices might require you to turn the device off or remove the battery before inserting the card. However on more recent devices you can insert and remove the SD card while the device is running.
  3. Open your file manager and navigate to the SD card folder.
  4. From there, find your app and tap on it to start the installation process. Android will warn you about the potential risk when installing a third-party app from an unknown source. Tap Continue to proceed.
  5. Choose Install to start the installation.
  6. After the installation is complete you can now open the app, just like you would normally if it was installed from the app store.

The menus look different on your device?

The menus and settings as described above can vary from device to device. This is because every Android version looks different, but also because manufacturers sometimes adjust the layout based on their requirements. However, it should not be too difficult to find the right menu. For example, the Unknown sources toggle can be found under Security on some devices.

Are there any risks when installing APK files directly?

Even though installing APK files on your device is very easy, there are some risks you have to keep in mind. Make sure you only download and install from trusted sources. Some APK files might contain malicious code that can potentially harm your device or leak personal information. Always check your sources upfront to keep your data safe!

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