While Google Play Store may be the biggest app marketplace in the world, sometimes you may be driven to other platforms for various reasons. One of the major reasons why people look beyond the Play Store is because it doesn’t list the apps that are region-locked or banned in their country. Regulation issues aside, if you’re looking for an older version of a particular app, you will have to resort to a third-party app store. In this article, we bring you the complete guide on how to download apps on your Android smartphone without using the Google Play Store.
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Authorise installation of unknown apps
Your Android device does not encourage you to download apps from third-party sources. This is primarily because Google does not trust any other platforms other than its native Play Store. All apps on the Play Store have the necessary security certificates and any suspicious apps are swiftly taken down from the platform.
However, third-party marketplaces like APKPure, APKMirror, Aptoide, and more are completely trustworthy and employ the necessary measures to keep harmful apps out of their platforms.
The Android OS on your device demands authorisation from your when installing an app from a third-party source. Here’s how you can do it.
Step 1: Go to Settings and select ‘Biometrics and Security’.
Step 2: Tap on ‘Install unknown apps’.
Step 3: Scroll to the app you used to download the APK. You may have downloaded the APK from a web browser or received it via WhatsApp or Telegram.
Step 3: Turn on the toggle switch next to the relevant app.
Download the APK file from a third-party marketplace
If you have set your sight beyond the Google Play Store, there are a bunch of safe and secure marketplaces you can use to download your favourite apps. The process of downloading an app from a source other than the authorised marketplace is called ‘sideloading’. These are some of the best sites for safe APK downloads.
- APKMirror: Outside of the Play Store, APKMirror is the most popular marketplace for Android apps. It is also one of the most secure places to download APK files. The platform verifies all APK files before publishing them. APKMirror uses cryptographic signatures to identify verified developers and restricts any duplicates. Newer apps are verified by looking into the developer’s profile and matching the signature to the other apps they have published.
- APKPure: APKPure has its own rigorous set of tests to ensure that no malicious or harmful APKs get published on the platform. Apart from cryptographic signatures, APKPure also uses SHA certificates to secure the marketplace.
- Aptoide: With over 1 million apps on the platform and 300 million users worldwide, Aptoide is one of the biggest app marketplaces outside of the Google Play Store. A study from Waseda University in Japan rated Aptoide as the safest third-party app store in the world. The store’s malware detection tools are some of the most efficient among all marketplaces.
- F-Droid: Being an open-source project, F-Droid is as secure as it gets for third-party app stores. One of the better parts of using F-Droid is that you don’t need an account to download an APK from the marketplace. F-Droid also hosts open-source apps that cannot be found in the Google Play Store.
- APKHere: If you need to gain access to an app that is local to a foreign country, APKHere is the place to go. Some local apps may be region-locked on Google Play Store, making it hard to install them on your device. APKHere has a treasure trove of apps in foreign languages that can be downloaded with just a tap.
Install the app on your device
While Google Play Store automatically installs the apps you download from it, third-party marketplaces simply download the APK file, leaving you to install them to your device on your own. Here’s how you can install an APK file on your device.
Step 1: Go to the third-party app store and download the APK file.
Step 2: Access the downloaded APK file from the notification bar. You can also go to the File Manager on your smartphone and look for the APK in the Downloads folder.
Step 3: Open the APK file. This is where Android will ask if you want to allow third-party installations to your device from the app you used to download the APK. If you haven’t given the necessary permission already, do it now.
Step 4: Proceed to install the APK file. Once installed, the app can be accessed from the app drawer.
This is how you can download apps on an Android smartphone without using the Google Play Store. While the third-party marketplaces mentioned in this article are safe to use, make sure you verify other sources before downloading content from them. Additionally, install a good anti-virus app on your smartphone for an additional layer of security.
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