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How to install incompatible apps or region-restricted apps on Android

If you want to download a great new game or cool new streaming service, but discover the app is incompatible with your device or not available in your country, it doesn't necessarily mean you need to give up. One of the best things about Android is that there's always a way to get what you want. So today, we'll show you how to install incompatible apps on Android using a couple of great little tools.

A disclaimer

It's important to note that whilst VPNs, APKs and Market Helper can be very effective, they are not the answer to all your problems. You will find that some apps just aren't compatible with your device - no matter what you do, it will never work.

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VPN

TunnelBear

I first came across TunnelBear on a recent trip to China where I was using it as a VPN. It was great for that purpose, but I also realized it could also be used to bypass incompatible apps. Here's how:

AndroidPIT Nexus 6P tunnel bear vpn
Dive in and away we go! / © AndroidPIT

1. Download TunnelBear from the Play Store. 

TunnelBear VPN Install on Google Play

2. Launch the app and create an account.

3. You'll see the switch to turn TunnelBear on and a map of the world. Simply tap a tunnel anywhere on the globe and wait for the bear to tunnel its way there.

AndroidPIT TunnelBear VPN
Once that bear gets in a tunnel, there's no telling where he'll pop up. / © AndroidPIT

4. If you get a connection request, agree to it.

5. Once the bear has tunneled to your new VPN location, you can go grab that app you were after.

Say I wanted Hulu in Germany, where it isn't possible to install the app. I can simply tell TunnelBear that I'm in the US, and I'll be able to download Hulu. You still might not be able to find apps by searching directly in the Play Store, but searching for the app name and “play store” in Chrome should bring up the app link. You'll now be able to click that link and download and install the app.

Note that you may need to keep the VPN running in order to access content in region-restricted apps and that not all apps will work outside their regions. If the app still says it's not available in your country, clear the cache for the Play Store in Settings > Apps > Google Play Store and try again.

AndroidPIT install hulu region restriction
Before and after: region-locked and free to install. / © AndroidPIT

APK

There is good and bad news: installing a non-compatible application on your smartphone is very simple, but it only works with free titles.

All you need to do is just download the APK app via APK Downloader, and copy the URL for the app from the Google Play Store. On your smartphone the trick is to retrieve the URL by selecting the Share button on the Play Store and open Gmail. To summarize: 

1. Copy the app's URL.

2. Paste the URL into the APK Downloader site.

androidpit FR apk downloader
Nothing is simplier than using APK to access apps. © AndroidPIT

3. Download the APK file.

Here is a link to the full guide on how to download an APK file from the Google Play Store. If the APK Downloader site does not work, you can always try to retrieve the APK file you want via APK Mirror

Market Helper

Market Helper is the app you need when you want to install an app that isn't compatible with your device. First, you'll need to make sure your device is rooted, otherwise you won't be able to download the Market Helper app. 

Then you'll need to enable Unknown sources in your security settings and download Market Helper from the creator's website. For obvious reasons, the app isn't available in the Play Store so make sure you only download it from a reliable source.

1. Launch Market Helper.

2. You'll see four drop-down boxes: device type, device model, location and carrier. These will be auto-filled to match the details of your device. You can change this to a different type and model, according to the app you want to download – so if you want to download a tablet-only app to your phone, you can select a tablet model from the drop-down menus and register it as a 'new' device. The device selection may not be huge, but generally any model for the device category you need is fine.

AnddoridPIT Market Helper select device and carrier
Pick your device category, region and carrier (if necessary). / © AndroidPIT

3. Select a device type.

4. Select a device model.

5. Select a region.

6. Select a carrier.

7. Tap Activate at the bottom of the screen and agree to the superuser request when it pops up. You might also have to agree to certain app permissions depending on which version of Android you're running.

AndroidPIT Market Helper register nvidia shield
Allow superuser permissions and your 'new' device will be registered. / © AndroidPIT

8. You'll see an “Activated successfully” message. Head to Device Manager and once you see your new device showing up, you can hit the Play Store and download that app you want. As above, if you have issues with the Play Store, try clearing the cache or just grab the app through Chrome search results.

Note: When you want to change back, simply go back to Market Helper and return to the default settings, or reboot your phone.

AndroidPIT Market Helper restore default device
You can revert back at any time. See how we're now a Nexus 5 again? / © AndroidPIT

Not all apps will work properly with your device just because you tricked the Play Store into downloading them. It's still possible that strange things will happen due to the difference in screen resolution or aspect ratio, or the app may not work at all.

What apps have you downloaded using these methods? Do you have any other tips to share? Let us know in the comments below.

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20 comments

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  • The only app I ever wanted that was geoblocked is Pandora, that doesn't show up in the Play Store in Canada. I'd put time and effort into "stations" (Pandora needs constant nurture, keeps wandering into tops of the pops) on the PC over some years, then Pandora blocked it. The new Opera VPN works fine, relocating to USA and permitting both Play Store download and streaming. Truth told, I'm rarely using it anyway any more.

  • I suggest people drop the whole idea of installing non-permitted apps. Really, who cares for an app so much that one will endure this unpredictability, legal issues, and security holes? There are millions of apps legally available to you. Pick a few and enjoy them. Don't worry about what apps people in Switzerland, or Timbuktu, are enjoying.

    • Georg Seebode
      • Admin
      • Staff
      1 week ago Link to comment

      but what if you want an app that isnt officially available in your country yet? ive had a few of those cases ;)

  • storm 1 week ago Link to comment

    If you're rooted, Xposed framework has some good methods for this.

  • The device changer didn't work for me😳

  • I don't know if this would work but I use an app store called appvn that is pretty awesome and not just for installing other apps 😉😉 *wink* *wink*

  • i wanna try but i'm afraid if my phone so deeply broken. I used galaxy tab 3 but cannot install whatsapp and others. what should i do?

  •   18
    anshul Jan 13, 2016 Link to comment

    I am in India I tried it but it didn't work. Don't know why?

  • Thank you soooooooo much! I just got my Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 in the mail today which was one of my main Christmas presents. I couldn't download one of my favorite games, and I was totally freaked out. I tried so many ways and visited so many websites to try to download the incompatible app. But I finally went I went to this site I downloaded it from the Play Store! Thank you so much. :)

  • In android application development, orientation is the deciding factors for presenting the layout in a row wise or a column wise fashion. Set orientations are used for setting the values and values can either is horizontal or vertical.

  • Error ¨Android ID not found¨, market helper, como soluciono esto? como lo corrijo? LG P720H 3D Max, con android 2.3.5, no puedo entrar ni al Gmail, tampoco a mi google play me dice error de conexion con el servidor, ni al google+ sin conexion, no es posible conectar con el servidor, solucionen esto.
    donde hayo el archivo q da Id a mi android?
    5diciembre 2015.

  • Android is the largest player in the market of mobile platforms. For development of android app - One app, single objective must be your agenda. While you go to develop mobile apps, you should not try to make it a solution for many needs. Focus on offering with a single objective and develop mobile application around it. mobileapptelligence[dot]com

  • I follow ur instruction about market helper and still i can't install Dawn Of Titans i eiether use VPN but still the same can't install the game.im using Note4 i din't understand why the game is incompatible with my phone.Please help.Thanks

  • Bojan M. Nov 27, 2015 Link to comment

    I see no need for any other app other than Market Helper in this case. Used it many times, worked perfectly every time. Of course you must be rooted and that may be the only restriction for some.

  • Paolo Nov 27, 2015 Link to comment

    I've wiped the GP Store cache (and lost the new design in the process,) I disabled location, I even went to Airplane Mode, and it still detected my OLD location wherever I went, Tunnelbear DID NOT WORK AT ALL for me. I shuffled between the offered countries, nothing, still where I live. Oh well.

  • 5URV1V0R Nov 27, 2015 Link to comment

    Gave TunnelBear a try. Set my home to US, still couldn't get access to US apps - like music or movies or Hulu :) - neither on play store nor on chrome.
    N.B. I did clear the play store cache

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