Most advanced Android users know that sideloading lets you gain access to all kinds of apps not in the Google Play Store. Even if Google deems an app unfit, like the Amazon Appstore, you can still enjoy it without limitation.
However, allowing apps from unknown sources onto your device can prove dangerous. Even if you only install apps from reputable locations, you never know if some malware will take advantage of the setting to exploit your device.
That’s why Android Oreo is bringing a great change to how sideloaded apps work: instead of having one switch to allow unknown apps from anywhere, Oreo allows you to toggle this option for individual apps.
Obviously, this is a huge improvement. For instance, let’s say you often sideload apps by finding them on your PC and placing them in Dropbox. Allowing Dropbox to sideload apps means that you can easily install them, but your phone will block any other apps attempting to do so. You can keep potentially unsafe sources — like your SMS app, which has historically been a place where malware can attack — locked tight.
To take a look at this option, open your phone’s Settings app. Select Apps & Notifications, then open the Advanced header. Tap Special app access to open a menu of important permissions you can give apps. At the bottom you’ll see Install unknown apps — tap this, then you’ll see a list of all your apps.
Then, it’s just a matter of enabling the Allow from this source slider. Now you can install apps from trusted sources but prevent them from potentially compromising your device. It’s a win-win solution — a great victory for both user convenience and security.
If you’ve got a Nexus or Pixel, you can install Android 8.0 Oreo right now.
Where do you most often sideload apps from? What was the last app you installed from outside the Play Store? Let us know in the comments!
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