Initially developed by Android Inc, and later was Google, the Android Mobile Operating System was first introduced in 2007 and receive its commercial launch in 2008. It quickly gains the interest of users due to its liability, accessibility, user-friendly interface, and become a serious opponent for Apple’s iOS. Moreover, it’s an open source operating system, which means that users can have further interventions with the system. Hence, users can make changes to their system and gain a complete control of their phones by overriding the manufacturer.
In time, while the iOS is starting to show its weaknesses for being less customizable, limiting the user’s control of their phones, or having boring repeated designs every year, Android phones are getting better and better after each firmware updates. In facts, it’s estimated that there are roughly 90% of mobile phone users in the world are Android users, and the number is expected to increase in the future. Which also explain why the demands for Androids apps are far more significant than those for iOS.
However, with a huge amount of users on multiple devices with different hardware, it’s always a challenge for the developers to come up with a perfect app that can work well on all phones. It’s not like with the iOS where Apple only release one or two phones each year. Which is why in order to use the app properly, you must update it to the latest versions or look for the best address for installing apps.
For most users, Google Play should be the first place to think of when you’re looking for your favorite app or trying to install a new one. Most of the time, you’ll probably find what you’re looking for since Google Play has the largest collections of Android apps. However, there are restrictions and rules for the apps that are listed on it, those that don’t satisfy the harsh requirements will not be listed on the website. Hence, there are many awesome apps don’t appear on Google Play, instead, it’s listed in other popular Android Market like Appmirror, and so on. To download them, you must download the APK file and install it on your phone.
If you don’t know what’s an APK file, don’t worry. In this post, we’ll be showing you how to properly install APK files on your Android devices and giving you a complete understanding of the term APK as well as its applications.
What is an APK file?
Android Package Kit (or APK for short) – is a proprietary package file format created for Google’s Android Operating System. It’s usually used for distribution and installation on Android devices, just like with Window’s .exe files. In every APK file, there is the META-INF in which stored the manifest file – the main file that contains an APK’s signature and resources. Lib/ and Res/ are the ones that follow featuring further resources and the native library including images and sounds. Each file also has an AndroidManifest.xml file that stored the app’s name, versions, and other contents. Finally, we have the classes.dex and resources.arsc in which contain codes for the app to run properly.
Viewing Apk files – APK file are stored in Zip format, which compressed all files and folders in the APK into a single file. This is to reduce the amount of space that’s required to store the file. And it’s not much of a difference compared to other .zip files, in fact, users can unzip the APK file in order to see what’s inside.
Making APK files – And in contrast to normal belief, it’s not difficult to create an APK file even for those who’re new to the platform. If you’re feeling crafty you can try designing your own Android app using Android Studio, which is the officially integrated device environment (IDE) for Android developers. The tool is available in both Windows, Mac, Linux, and you can use it to create your app for Google Play with ease.
Are APK files safe to install?
As we’ve stated earlier, the best thing about the Android platform is that it allows users to have more control over their devices. Not like with iOS devices when you can only install apps from the App Store and must follow restricted requirements from Apple. With Android devices, users will have the option to download apps from other sources along with the Official Google Play Store provided by Google. It’s great for the consumer since they can choose what to do with their phones, turning them into classified communication devices using Google’s advanced security system that is built in their Android operating system, or go a little deeper on the operating systems and install unknown APK files from the internet. Either way, you’ll definitely feel satisfied with your choice.
But this raises a question on whether these APK files are safe to install on your devices? So here are a few ways for you to check on your APK files to make sure that they’re safe for installation:
Only download APK files from trusted sources
If you’re not sure about the app, or simply want to install standard applications for your Android phones, the best option would be to install apps from Google Play only. And even in here you can occasionally encounter spam or copycat products from untrusted developers, report them to the admin right away if you see them. But most of the time, you’ll be safe here since all the app is free from viruses or malware.
However, if you’re looking for a more in-depth experience with the system, you can download awesome APK files from other sources like apkmafia.com, and other trusted sites. Enable the “install apps from unknown sources” option in your phone and you can start experiencing them.
Using tools to check the APK files for viruses
A major issues that every user must face when installing apps from unknown sources are viruses and malware. But if you’re forced to do it, here are the tools to help you: VirusTotal.
This is a convenient online tool for checking files, the website lets you upload your APK files on it and to check for viruses and other issues. In fact, APK files rank fifth on the most checked files. The only drawback is that the site required a maximum file size under 128 MB for each file you check, so it could be difficult for large games. A clever way to get around this is to split your files into smaller files and join it back after you finish the check.
To use it, simply follow these steps:
- Open the website
- Click on the Choose File button and locate the file in your storage then click OK
- Select Scan It for the website to process the file and wait for the result.
The website is a non-commercial entity and is under the direct ownership of Google, so you should have no problem analyzing your APK files. And the data are collected from multiple antivirus engines to make sure the results are dependable. NViso ApkScan
This one works just like VirusTotal, but the site is prioritized in scanning APK files only. And the best thing is that it doesn’t have any size limit for the file that you upload on.
Follow these steps to use it:
- Access the site
- Drag and drop the APK file on the Drag & drop Android package here
- Click on the Scan Package button and wait for the result
You can also choose to receive the analyzed result in E-mails by choosing the E-mail box and enter your addresses.
Checking the hash value
Another way to check whether you’re installing the right APK file is to check its hash. It’s like looking at one’s fingerprint, there is no mistake about it and each file can only have a single hash value. So to make sure your app is legit, you can compare the value with the one that was made public by the developers. If those two match, then your file is safe.
While there are many ways to check on the hash value, using Hash Droid is probably the most simple and effective way. All you need to do is download and install the app from Google Play to your Android devices then follow these steps:
- Select the Hash a File panel
- In the Select a Hash function menu, tap on SHA-256
- Select the APK file you want to check and tap on the Calculate button
If the returned hash value is matched with the one provided by the developer, then your APK file is good to go. But if it doesn’t, you might want to consider not to install the app since it might have been altered by hackers.
Why would I want to install an APK File?
Not every app are displayed on Google Play
Though Google Play has been a great place for every Android users to look for interesting apps for their devices, there are still thousands of others apps that are not listed on the website. Which is why you will need to install an APK file on your Android devices if you want to use them.
Moreover, cracked apps are not supposed to be on Google Play. So if you’re looking for a hacked version of your favorite game to save yourself some trouble going through boring and demanding tasks, you must look for hacked APK files on the Internet and install them on your devices.
In addition, if you’ve rooted your phone and are looking for apps that can prevent ads, you can just go on Google Play to look for it since it’ll be impossible. In these cases, download useful APK files can help you solve the problem.
Using APK is much more convenient
This might sound absurd as you can always download and install the app right inside Google Play with just one tap on the Install button. But if you think about it, there are many disadvantages with using Google Play to download the app.
First, your Internet connection must be stable, or else, you can lose your downloading files when the network is down. Instead, if you’re downloading an APK file, you can pause the process and wait until the Internet is ok.
Second, APK files are a much better way to story useful and interesting applications for later use. If you want to install a deleted app, just locate the APK and reinstall it on your devices. But if you download it from Google Play, you’ll have to re-download the app from the beginning. This can be bothering, especially when the file sizes are too large. You can also copy the APK files and share them with your friends so they can install them with ease.
For the geeks, using APK files would also make it more simple if they want to make some changes to the apps. And you can always work on the file using your computer, which is extremely convenient.
How to install an APK from your Android device?
Enough with the advantages of using APK files, this guide will show you how to properly install an APK right from your Android devices:
Enabling install APK files option
- Go to the Setting menu of your Android device
- Select the App & Notifications panel the choose Install unknown apps. If the option is not presented, you should look for the Special app access and look for the Install unknown apps option inside of it.
- A panel contains all the applications on your device should pop up detailing all the apps that are currently allowed.
- Select your browser and enable Allow from this source if you’re planning to download and install the apps using it. If you’re going to install the APK file from your file manager app, locate it in the list and select the same options.
Note: For Android devices with lower firmware versions, you can do this by going to the Personal panel and select the Security option. Scroll down and locate the Unknown sources option from the Device Administration panel.
Installing APK files from the browser
- Open your browser and access any Android app website that’s on your mind, but make sure the file you’re going to download is available on it.
- Select the search option or look for the desired file manually. Tap on the download button and wait for it to finish.
- Open the downloaded file from the browser, a prompt window will pop up asking you which installation option you would want. Select the standard Package Installer and wait until it finishes installing your app.
- After the installation, you can either open the app or select Done to return to where you were.
Installing APK files from your file manager
- This method requires you to have your APK downloaded or copied to the storage.
- Open your file manager application and locate the APK file in the folder where you place it.
- Tap on it and the same prompt window will open asking which installation option do you prefer. Select Package Installer and wait for the process to complete.
Keep in mind that if you haven’t enabled the Install unknown apps option for your browser or file manager, a window will pop up asking you for permission. Sometimes it will direct you to the desired panel but sometimes it requires you to enable the option manually, so it’s best to do it in the first place. You can also install APK file from other apps, but remember to enable the Install unknown apps permission for the selected apps first.
How to install APK Files from your computer?
Install APK files to Android devices from a computer
You should have the APK file in your computer storage before doing the installation by either downloading it from the internet or copy it from other sources. Moreover, your computer must have the driver for the USB connection installed. Make sure you’re able to see your Android device connected to your phone. Once you’ve set up the connection properly, follow these steps to install APK files from your computer:
- Once your USB cable is connected to the smartphone, you should receive an asking prompt with the options for the connection.
- Choose Connected as a media device and you should see your phone’s storage folder pop up on the computer screen.
- Open the folder in the computer where the APK file is located.
- Select it and copy the file to your Android device. Remove the USB cable after the process is finished.
- On your phone, open the file manager. Make sure you’ve enabled the Install unknown apps permission for your file manager before the installation.
- Locate the APK file inside your file manager, simply tap on it and a prompt window will pop up asking which installation option do you prefer. Select Package Installer and your apps should be automatically installed.
Install APK files on a computer
And if you’re looking to install the APK file on your computer, there are many Android emulators for PC which you can installed and create a virtual Android machine right on your computer. In this case, Android Studio and BlueStacks are great choices for both Windows and MacOS users. Our guide below will show you how easy it is to install APK files on a computer using BlueStacks.
- Download your preferred version of BlueStacks from this address and wait until it finishes
- After that, open the downloaded installer on your computer. Select the Install Now option and choose a destination for the installed software. Click OK and start the installation.
- Once it’s done, open BlueStacks for a few minor setups depending on your preferences.
- Start the emulation, it will ask you to make a few setups just like with a new Android device. Finish it up and we’ll start with the main event.
- Download the APK file on your computer and place it next to BlueStacks on the screen.
- Drag and drop the file onto your BlueStack icon and the installation should happen automatically.
- After that, you can open the emulator and use the installed app on BlueStacks.
How do I install a XAPK file?
What is a XAPK file?
XAPK files are a different variant of APK files, they’re often used to store APK file for app installation and data files. The reason for this is because there are many games with huge in-game data that need to be download and install once you’ve installed the APK file. By combining the two, XAPK files are easier to install and require less storage space, making it more convenient for Android users.
How to install
First, you need to download a proprietary installation app for XAPK files. We recommend using XAPK Installer for the best experience and performance. You can download the app from any websites, such as APK mirror, APK award, APK pure, and so on. Also, make sure you’ve already downloaded a XAPK file on your Android’s storage.
Follow these steps to install XAPK files on the installer:
- Open the installed installer
- Locate the desired XAPK file using the installer
- Select Install and wait for it to finish. Your XAPK file will be extracted and install automatically
- Close the app once the process has finished and you can start enjoying your game
How to open APK files?
It depends on your purposes on whether you want to see the content inside an APK file or open it for installation. If you want to install the APK files, simply go back to our guides above. And if you want to view the content inside there are a few ways to do it:
- Open from Android device – Use your file manager application and locate to the APK file. Since it’s technically a compressed file, you can extract the file into a folder and see what’s inside.
- Open from Window – Use window explorer to locate the file, then use extract programs like Winrar or 7Zip to extract the file.
- Open from Mac – Use Mac’s file manager to look for the APK file and extract it using extraction program.
Thanks for reading and we’ll see you in our future posts.