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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 .



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!).


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.


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!

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