Android apps and games can also be installed outside Google Play using the APK file type. Even though most people install apps using Google Play, there are plenty of apps that are not yet in the app store.
These can be downloaded directly as Android APK file from the developer’s website or through third parties. How to install Android apk files? Below we show how.
Installing Android APK files
- A .apk file is similar to an .exe file on a PC or .dmg- or .app file on a Mac. If you have the .apk file you downloaded from the developer’s website, copy it to the memory card via the supplied USB cable or through cloud apps like Dropbox, which can move files to the internal memory;
- It does not matter where you put the file: the root (top level) or a special folder as downloads or Temp is fine as long as you can easily retrieve the file. The location of the Android apk file is in fact very important to install the app. It is also a requirement that you enable the feature “allow installation from unknown sources”. This is often found in Setting > Security > Unknown sources;
- Installing an .apk file goes usually through file managers. These are not always included with Android smartphones. Therefore, Google Play offers a solution.
Apps to install apk files
For example, you can install the app ASTRO through Google Play, a file manager that allows you to perform all the usual actions that you’re used to on the desktop in the Explorer / Finder: create folders and move, copy files, rename, delete files, whatever you want.
You can also use ASTRO to browse to the newly downloaded Android apk files. The installation will then automatically start after tapping the apk file, in a way that you are used with apps that you have installed from Google Play.
There are also specialized applications, such as the APK installer app (also free of charge available in the Google Play Store). With this app, users can install a little easier apk files on an Android device by simply opening the folder where the file is. APK Installer also has no other options.