How to install apps outside of Google Play in Android [Tip]

Most of the apps that you download and install on your Android device can be found on Google Play. Now, what if your device doesn’t have Google Play? Well, you can either opt to use its pre-installed app market or learn how to sideload apps from third-party sources. If you opt for the latter, then go ahead and read on.

How to install non-market apps on Android

To install apps outside of Google Play, here’s what you need to do:

Step One

Using your Android device, get the APK version of the app that you like. APK stands for “Android application package file”. It is the file format used to distribute and install a particular app on your Android device. You can easily recognize an APK file because it has a filename extension of .apk.

APK file sample

Moreover, APK files can be found everywhere. If you want to find the APK file for a specific app, just type the app’s name then add APK at the end before you do a quick search (ex. Instagram APK, Flappy Bird APK, etc.).

If you have your APK file on your computer, just transfer it to your Android device via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, etc.

Step Two

Once you have your APK file, go to your Android device settings. Find the “Settings” option on your app drawer.

Step Three

On your device settings, go to “Security” then scroll down until you see the section for “Device administration”.

For devices with older Android OS versions, go to “Settings” > “Applications”.

check unknown sources

Step Four

Check the box next to “Unknown sources”. This will allow you to install apps from third-party sources. In other words, apps that comes outside of Google Play.

Step Five

Use a file manager to find the APK file that you wish to install. Most Android devices have a built-in file manager. Just look for it. It’s there on your app drawer.

find apk file

Step Six

Once you find your APK file, click on it. A “Complete action using” dialog will then appear. Just select “Verify and install” from the list of available options. Once done, click “Just Once”.

verify and install

Step Seven

Another dialog will appear and it will ask you to confirm your app installation. To confirm, just select “Install”. You will be notified once the app has been successfully installed.

confirm install

So that’s it. You can either launch the app directly from the confirmation dialog or just leave it as it is. You can always launch it from your app drawer.

app installed

How to uninstall

To uninstall your non-Market apps, just go to your device settings then select “Manage apps”. Select the app that you wish to remove then press “Uninstall”. The process is basically the same as the apps that you’ve downloaded from the Play Store.

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7 comments

  1. Carol

    In Step Six, I wonder why the Google Installer was recommended? I wish the options were discussed and the author’s reason for selecting Google was made known. I am trying to steer clear of Google by side-loading in the first place so using it to complete my installation was not my gut instinct.

  2. Frank D

    @Hendrik (#5) Thanks for doing that research!

    My first problem is that I have a Nook HD, and the links you provided address only the HD+ which is a different animal, with a different OS. The second is that neither of those work-arounds is feasible for me. They require a new or reformatted SD card and some stealthy work which I’m not qualified or willing to try. Others have tried and failed, and here’s what one said:

    “The only answer here, is you should avoid these delibererately crippled devices. They’re after making your experience limited, not enhancing it. And they’re doing this at our expense. Which is a shame. Otherwise, these are nice Android tablets. It’s a marketing thing, for which we have to bear the consequences.”

    So I’ll just wait and save up for a next-generation, *real* Android device, *not* a B&N product — and *not* an Apple product.

  3. Frank D

    @Hendrik (#3) Thanks for the suggestion. I tried it, and the message appeared: “This app has been blocked.” There was some other text, but I didn’t note it. In short, there’s no way Barnes & Noble is going to allow anything that’s not from Google Play Store on the device. Oh well, my next tablet *will not*be from B&N.

  4. Hendrik

    [@Frank D]
    Perhaps a way to bypass this is asking someone to transfer a specific app to you via Send Anywhere then just install it? Because you no need to download from an external location anymore as the apk file is sent directly to your phone.