What Is an APK File and What Does It Do?

Ben Stegner 12-12-2017

If you have an Android device, you might have heard the term APK and wondered what it means. Let’s quickly discuss what an APK is and why it’s important to Android.


What Is an APK File?

APK stands for Android Package Kit (also Android Application Package) and is the file format that Android uses to distribute and install apps. It contains all the elements that an app needs to install correctly on your device.

Just like EXE files on Windows, you can place an APK file on your Android device to install an app. Manually installing apps using APKs is called sideloading.

Normally when you visit Google Play to download an app, it automatically downloads and installs the APK for you. While you can extract APKs from the Play Store How to Download an APK from Google Play to Bypass Restrictions Need to get your hands on the installable APK file for an app from Google Play? We got you covered. Read More , they’re also available to download from alternative app stores.

What Are APK Files Used For?

You’ll find several benefits to installing APKs manually. One of the biggest is getting access to apps ahead of time. When a major Google app (like Calendar) releases a major update, it can take a week or more for your device to get it. Installing the APK lets you skip the wait and update right away.

Sideloading APKs also lets you install apps on your device that aren’t available on Google Play 10 Best Android Apps Not in the Play Store The Play Store isn't the end-all-be-all of Android apps. If you've never ventured outside of it, you're really missing out. Read More . But, just like desktop software, downloading APK files from random websites isn’t a good idea. This is especially true if the site promises you a paid app for no cost.


So APKs are the core format that Android uses to distribute and install apps. They’re quite handy for power Android users, but you must be careful where you download them from. Try these sites for safe Android APK downloads The 5 Best Sites for Safe Android APK Downloads Need to download an APK to your Android device without the Google Play Store? Check out the best safe APK download sites. Read More !

Image Credit: Observer/Depositphotos

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  1. Interview Sortout
    March 26, 2018 at 7:46 am

    APK stands for Android Package, an APK file can be installed on an android device just like installing software on windows. APK files are kind of archive files, to make an APK file an android program is compiled and then all its contents like assets, resources, and certificates are packaged into one file.

  2. Alwayslooking
    December 13, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    Why can't you delete the Apk after the fact that you've installed the App

  3. Musa Ibrahim
    December 13, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    I've sideloaded apps several times. I love it if I don't have to go to Play Store to download app

  4. Musa Ibrahim
    December 13, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    I've sideloaded several times. I love it if I don't have to go to Play Store to download app

    • Mas'ud
      October 20, 2019 at 8:40 am

      Pls bro which way causes too much data? download from play store or side loading?