If you own an Android phone you will likely have heard of an APK file at some point, and possibly wondered "what exactly is an APK file?" Understanding this is essential if you want to start downloading leaked apps or customizing your own Android experience further than would be possible using the Play Store alone. In our guide you'll learn what APK files are, how to download them, and finally, how to install them. Read on to discover what these little packages are all about.
What is an APK File?
An APK file is a file format used to distribute and install software (usually games or applications) on the Android operating system. Downloading the APK allows you to install programs without needing access to sites like Google Play (or AndroidPIT). To install these files, it's not even necessary to be connected to the internet.
Why would I want to install an APK File?
Installing APK files allows you to install apps that have leaked ahead of their official release. Alternatively, you can download apps that have been banned, though we would not recommend this. Often APK files from new Android builds are leaked, giving you early access to features that you otherwise wouldn't have been able to get without downloading them on your own. APK files also allow you to bypass carriers to get the latest Google updates, and if your Android device lacks access to Google Play, APK files may be the only way to get apps on your device.
Installing APK Files from your computer
There are many websites that host APK files, but be sure to choose one which you trust so you don't accidentally upload a malicious file to your phone. Generally, APK files hosted on sites like XDA should be safe(r) to download than from elsewhere, but always read reviews before you download an APK file.
First, download the APK file to an easy-to-find location your computer, like your desktop. Before installing anything on your phone, you'll need to properly enable your phone by going to Menu > Settings > Security > check "Unknown Sources" to allow your phone to install apps from sources other than the Google Play Store. You should also download an app like ES File Explorer so you can easily find the app you transferred from your computer to your Android.
Start by connecting your device to your computer. At this point, you may be asked if you simply want to charge your phone or you would like to connect it as a "media device." Choose the latter. Then simply find your phone's folder on your computer (it is in "My Computer" or "Computer" on Windows machines) and drag and drop the APK file in the folder of your choice in your Android smartphone.
You'll be able to find the downloaded APK file by searching for the desired folder in the "my files" section. Find the APK file, click on it, then click "install" and you're done.
Installing APK Files from Your Browser
You can also install APK files from the browser on your Android. Just open your browser, click on the APK file you want to download and you'll see it downloading in the top bar of your phone. Once done, open the "Downloads" icon, click the .apk file, click "yes" and the app will begin downloading to your Android. Easy.
Do these methods work for you? Let us know in the comments below.