Google’s Android operating system is not as restrictive and closed as Apple’s iOS. The Play Store has millions of apps. So, a large number of people will probably never need to download and install apps from outside the Play Store. But sometimes you might be left with no option but to think beyond the Play Store. Maybe an app you want is not available in your country, or perhaps you want the older version of an app you like. Here’s how you can download and install Android apps from outside the Play Store.
There are a couple of ways to get the app you want. Before we lay out the step-by-step guide, you should know that downloading apps from third-party services could put you at an increased risk of malware attacks or scams. Android scans apps downloaded from third-party sources, but it can’t add the same level of protection as those downloaded from the Play Store.
Download and install the APK
Downloading APKs from websites exposes you to malware. But there are a handful of websites that have proven somewhat reliable. One of them is APKMirror, which is operated by folks at Android Police. APKMirror publishes only credible apps from reliable developers. It ensures that the unmodified files are signed by the relevant developers.
Launch the browser on your Android smartphone, head over to APKMirror and browse through their collection to find the app you’ve been looking for. If there are multiple versions of the app, look at the version number and download the latest one. When you tap the Download APK button, your Android handset will warn you about the risks of installing apps from unknown sources. Tap OK to authorize the download.
Once the download is complete, go to the notification panel and tap on the relevant notification to start installing the app. The Android phone will prompt you to allow the installation of unknown apps. Tap Settings on the prompt and turn on the toggle on the next screen. Now you’ll see a new prompt asking you to confirm the installation. Just tap Install and the app will safely install. That’s it. The app is now ready to use.
Install Android apps from third-party app stores
Besides Play Store, there are a number of reliable third-party app stores such as F-Droid and Amazon’s App Store. You have to first download the app store’s APK on your device and then install it. The process is similar to what I described above.
After installing the app store, launch it and search for the app you want. If your device is running Android Oreo or later, you have to grant the app store permission to install apps on the device. Download and install the app just like you would from the Play Store, and start using it.