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Managing the Android APK files yourself means you get more support and flexibility. You can track down and install an older version of an application, before an update rendered it unusable on your older smartphone, look for apps outside of your region, or even install apps that are not yet available on the Google Play store.

AppWererabbit

Prominently featured in Kannon Yamada’s list of The Best Free Apps from XDA Developers The Latest and Best Free Android Apps From XDA Developers: Get Great Apps Before Your Friends The Latest and Best Free Android Apps From XDA Developers: Get Great Apps Before Your Friends If you're like me, scoring a great program feels like discovering Picasso or Caravaggio for the first time — but finding gems requires installing a lot of really bad software. XDA makes the discovery process... Read More , AppsWererabbit is the swiss army knife of APK managers; an all-in-one toolset to back up, export, import and manage Android APKs. Apart from being incredibly powerful, AppWererabbit is also beautifully designed and a profound joy to use. Those two things together make it the ideal app to manage your APK library right on your phone.

AppWererabbit

If you like to manage, or at least store your APK files externally, you can use AppWererabbit to make back-ups and batch export them to your SD card. Alternatively, you can send individual APKs to other apps on your phone, like Dropbox and the Email application. Sending files to external apps in batch is sadly not possible. Instead, you could use a third-party file explorer like ES File Explorer (review) ES File Explorer - The Best File Manager For Android [Android] ES File Explorer - The Best File Manager For Android [Android] Android doesn’t come with a file manager. Google thinks file managers are part of the past – a complicated tool that we shouldn't need when our data is stored in the cloud and retrieved on-demand... Read More  to move the apps to Dropbox after exporting, or check out App Backup & Restore below.

App Backup & Restore

App Backup & Restore doesn’t have the sheer amount of functionality that AppWererabbit has, but it’s not hard to see why this is one of the most popular APK management apps around. With a simple, solid interface, App Backup & Restore can be used to (you guessed it) backup and restore the apps on your phone.

backup-and-restore-android

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One big advantage that App Backup & Restore has over AppWererabbit is the ability to send batches of files to other apps on your phone. After you’ve backed up some apps, you can upload them all to Dropbox or Google Drive in one go. If you like to keep your APKs in the cloud, this is a notable advantage.

APK File Manager

If you manage your APK files locally on your computer, APK File Manager by BDfreak is a must have. This useful Windows utility helps you collect APKs that are scattered around your computer in a single folder. Your APKs are renamed and moved to a human-readable folder structure, and duplicate APKs are spotted in the process.

apk-file-manager

To get started, fire up APK File Manager and press Load. Navigate to a location to scan for APKs and confirm. The APKs that were found will be listed in the main window. Select an output folder (this will be the location of your new, clean APK library) and hit the slightly overdramatic Go!!! button.

Your APK files will be organised and moved to the output folder. By default, all the original APKs are left alone, but you can also configure APK File Manager to remove the originals during the process. Be careful if you use this option, though.

apk-manager-organised

An interesting option is to use APK File Manager in conjunction with one of the on-phone APK managers mentioned above. You could keep your APK library synced with Dropbox and keep that Dropbox folder organised using APK File Manager.

APK Downloader

There are a few ways to track down APK files, most of them involving a lot of Googling or downloading directly from developers’ threads on forums. APK Downloader by Evozi makes what could be an arduous journey, a figurative walk in the park.

You use APK Downloader by entering the package name, or the Google Play URL. After APK Downloader works its magic, you’re given a download link of the APK on the Google Play servers. In other words, you’re downloading the exact same package that the Play Store would download to your phone.

apk-downloader

Two things of note. First, APK Downloader can only download free apps. This is not a tool for pirating paid apps. Second, the website doesn’t circumvent region checks. That means you can not, by default, download apps that are not available in your region. However, you can use APK Downloader with a proxy to download those apps, and it works like a breeze.

Do you organise your APKs manually, or do you rely on Google Play for application management? Tell us why in the comments section below the article!

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

  1. Robbing [the] Hoods
    May 10, 2014 at 12:48 am

    Do NOT use or download ANYTHING from EVOZI --- especially APK Downloader!

    According to about 50 people on the definitive Android Developers's site, "forum.XDA-DEVELOPERS.com, he used their public domain software, then just added his own hijack/sypware/malware to it. So a search on the program name and Evozi, and you will see this appears to be true.

    Also, the "official versions" are not easy, simple or reliable. One comment was that your Google login and password that the app requires is stored in clear text by the app.... Not a good or safe idea, and that is for the official app. Now, imagine hackware that you must put your Google credentials into for it to work! Hey, if you want, post your banking information on a public forum while you are at it.

    Here's the link to the forum... there are 45 pages devoted to "this official APK downloader app": http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1809458&page=46

  2. Krish
    May 7, 2014 at 8:51 am

    Warning: Apk File Manager by BD Freak has...Trojware.Win32.Krap.T@1

  3. Nahla D
    May 7, 2014 at 7:55 am

    Thank you for the rec. My Android is not rooted, so I'm going to check these apps, especially the AppWererabbit. I currently use ES File Explorer to get an exact copy of my apps, but it doesn't really do backups and restore.

  4. Guy DERIDET
    May 5, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    To use apk not available in my region I use Blackmart Alpha.
    BTW I would be happy to know for what obscure reasons some apk are not available locally.
    Let's take a new great apk : Cooliris. It's not available where I live : Thailand, but is available on Blackmart.
    Why ?
    Because it's not translated in Thaï ? I'm French !
    So, for Google every people located in Thailand is Thaï ? It's stupid, especially coming from a company who settle everywhere in the world. On my dashboard I mentioned English as my favorite language . As a Google user for a very long time Google knows everything about me.
    So what ?
    I fear that everything that Google knows about me is recorded by Google, and perhaps used by this company, but only in Google's interest. When it could be interesting for me, they don't care at all.
    Not fair !

  5. likefunbutnot
    May 5, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Since one of the devices I use most often is an un-rooted Kindle Fire HDX, I get a lot of use out of APK Backup and Restore in combination with Google Drive and ES File Explorer. That gives me an easy path for sideloading apps and a single repository for installing software from sources outside of Amazon and Google.

  6. Axel C
    May 5, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    I personally use Titanium backup.

    It can create backups on a scheduled interval, saves the data as well.
    send the backups to a cloud service, keep several versions, ....

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