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Installing an app for Android means using Google Play for the most part, but the restrictions of the interface can lead to problems, such as erroneous claims concerning device compatibility.

Don’t let these limitations stop you. Download the APK (the installer file, Android’s equivalent of an EXE file on Windows) directly from Google Play (or elsewhere) to get the app sideloaded to your device in minutes.

Sideloading is simple, and means that you copy the APK from your desktop computer to your Android smartphone or tablet before installing it. Before proceeding, make sure you read our guide to sideloading How to Manually Install or Side Load Apps on Android How to Manually Install or Side Load Apps on Android Sideloading a file onto your Android device is easy, and we can show you how to do it. Read More to familiarise yourself with the process.

Reasons Why You Might Download an APK

If you’re looking at this post thinking “party time for pirates”, then think again. Many reasons exist for Android users to consider looking for a way to download APK files without the inconvenience of Google Play.

Surprisingly, downloading an APK directly from Google Play is actually simple. It’s even possible to grab APK files from other sites Google Play Alternatives For Downloading Android Apps Without Fuss Google Play Alternatives For Downloading Android Apps Without Fuss Many people think that the Google Play Store is the only option Android users have for downloading apps, but there are actually quite a few quality alternatives out there. Read More .

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Remember, if you want to install an APK that has been downloaded, you will need to enable Unknown Sources in Android’s Settings > Security screen. When you’ve completed your sideloading, remember to disable Unknown Sources, a vital security step to stop intruders and malicious scripts installing apps and other software you don’t want.

Before proceeding to download, take a look at Simon’s guide for managing your APK files 4 Useful Ways To Manage Your Android APK Files 4 Useful Ways To Manage Your Android APK Files Managing the Android APK files yourself means you get more support and flexibility. Read More , which features some useful tips.

The Browser Extension Solution

As simple solutions go, employing a Chrome browser extension is the best.

APK Downloader is your first stop. It can be installed as usual, and when configured, it will download the APK file you want (assuming the APK is free or you’ve already paid for it!).

muo-android-apk-downloadapk

Configuration can be tricky. You will need to sign in with your Google Play username and password, before finding and adding the device Android ID. To find this, enter *#*#8255#*#* on your phone’s keypad and look for the aid number, which you should enter in the browser extension as the Android ID.

If this doesn’t work, or your Android device doesn’t have a dialler (you may be using a tablet!) then employ an app such as Device ID which will instantly find and display the Android ID.

You can then proceed and download the APK to your computer; once complete, it is ready to install to your Android device using the sideloading method.

Grab the APK from Another Website

Evozi’s APK Downloader is a good alternative. As well as offering browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, the website offers a tool for downloading APKs. All you need to do is find the app on the Play Store (through your browser, rather than the tablet/smartphone app), copy the URL and paste it into the box, as pictured.

muo-android-apk-downloadlink

Click Generate Download Link, and when the link is created, click it to download to your computer. Note that there is also the option to view the QR code, which you can snap with a suitable Android QR code reader 8 Really Geeky But Creative Ways To Use QR Codes At Home 8 Really Geeky But Creative Ways To Use QR Codes At Home The plain-Jane QR code had a hi-tech beginning – Toyota used them in their manufacturing process for scanning automobile components. From there, QR codes have made the journey to even fashion ramps. That demonstrates their... Read More to download the APK directly to your phone.

With the file downloaded, remember to enable the Unknown Sources setting before attempting to install.

Extracting an APK File

Another method exists for you to find an APK file, and that is to pull it from another device, one with Play Store access, and sideload it onto hardware without access to Google Play.

This process isn’t nearly as difficult as it sounds, and Kannon’s guide explains how it can be done Got An Older Android Device? How To Extract And Install An Android App Got An Older Android Device? How To Extract And Install An Android App Anyone with an older device, or an interest in the Android operating system's file structure, will want to know the manual method. Read More . If you have an older tablet without Play Store access and perhaps a phone or a second tablet that does have access to Google Play, this is a good way of getting the apps onto your Play-less hardware.

Should You Be Downloading APK Files?

It would seem that Google isn’t too keen on users accessing the APK files directly.

“3.3 You agree not to access (or attempt to access) Google Play by any means other than through the interface that is provided by Google, unless you have been specifically allowed to do so in a separate agreement with Google. You specifically agree not to access (or attempt to access) Google Play through any automated means (including use of scripts, crawlers, or similar technologies) and shall ensure that you comply with the instructions set out in any robots.txt file present on the Google Play website.”

As we can see in the terms of service, our usage of Google Play implies that we cannot access APK’s without using Google’s interface (although this might be worked around by using Google Chrome). Perhaps Google just wants to keep a tight rein on stats, as anyone downloading an APK in these ways is doing so without having an associated Google Play account recorded alongside.

Have you downloaded an APK to your Android device without using Google Play on your phone or tablet? Is it something you plan on trying? Perhaps you know of a way we haven’t covered?

Let us know — leave your comments below!

  1. Sucan
    July 6, 2016 at 8:34 am

    I found this site can download most region locked apps. have a try...

    m.downloadatoz.com

  2. Hayley
    June 27, 2016 at 7:51 am

    You can download APK files on donwloadfreeapk.com, the files were the same with google play .

  3. reza habibi
    May 20, 2016 at 11:03 am

    apk-dl.com is the best

  4. imahsen
    October 18, 2015 at 8:16 am

    Evozi most of the time not work for me and chrome extension seems have some privacy issues, because you need to provide your device ID and playstore login credentials. There are many well reputed sites to download apk files, for me http://www.apklink.com work fine. Apps sideloading is going to poplur due to playstore issues.

  5. Knepper Robert
    October 16, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Another website can download apk without playstore account need:
    http://apkplz.com
    no popup, direct download link

    • Cyndi Royce
      October 18, 2015 at 10:11 am

      Thank Knepper, this helpful website.

      • Mak Jubip
        November 17, 2015 at 5:32 am

        You can fetch APK from google play using device type, factory and country restrictions apps at here https://apkpure.co
        Ex: tv.peel.smartremote (best remote for android) or Argo didup (italia apps)...
        you can choose country, device type (phone, tablet, TV) and Android os (support 2.x,3.x,4.x,5.x and Android M soon)

    • Jack
      November 29, 2015 at 8:52 am

      Thank Knepper

  6. al1716 Pin
    June 17, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    to add to my old comment, ihave found an openvpn app on google play, along with easyovpn app, they seem to work for whenever i need to fool google play that im in japan or korea :)

  7. Prodromos
    February 24, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    I found anorher way to install an app which was not available outside the US directly from Google Play Store. I used tunnelbear on my pc and VPNed through US. Then I installed Bluestacks and signed in my Google account. Then I accessed the Play Store though the built in browser and found the app I was looking for (youtube for kids). I then downloaded the app, while the play store was still proofing the compatability.
    After that, I just went to my android device and found the app under Myapp/all and installed it without restriction

  8. alfie69
    February 19, 2015 at 12:33 am

    something else i found with google play is region restricted apps (ok games!:) i wanted to check out a japanese game called little noah,on google play but restricted to country..so using tunnelbear apk managed to fool my phone location and get the app/game. worked a charm , shame they have so much regio restricted apps !

    • Christian Cawley
      February 20, 2015 at 11:24 am

      Glad to hear it worked for you, alfie69!

    • Kazuaki Shimazaki
      June 12, 2015 at 6:10 pm

      Didn't fool my Google Play, unfortunately.

  9. Sam Park
    February 18, 2015 at 11:42 pm

    I'm trying to sideload Microsoft office (the tablet apps, not the phone edition) onto my fire hd 6, but I do not own an android tablet. I tried using the extension (did not work) and the website (gave error message that said it was not compatible). Is there any way I could get the apk files for the apps? Or could someone do me a HUGE favor and upload the apk to a OneDrive folder that I will send you the link to, and reupload the for every time a new update comes out. I will send you instructions on how to do this, if you want to...

  10. SpoonmanWoS
    February 18, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    "You agree not to access (or attempt to access) Google Play by any means other than through the interface that is provided by Google"

    Well, APK Downloader should be just fine. I'm still accessing Google Play through the interface provided by them. It's the APKs within that I'm accessing instead. I read this section to be more "don't use robots to grab your stuff".

    • Christian Cawley
      February 20, 2015 at 11:24 am

      I think most people would read it that way (I certainly do).

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