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 mean you need to give up. In this article, we'll show you two ways to make it work using a VPN or by downloading an APK file.
Jump to a section
It's important to note that whilst VPNs and APKs 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. Furthermore, downloading APKs can be dangerous if they come from sources that aren't reputable and using a VPN may be against the rules in your area. So, proceed with caution.
The internet-savvy among you are probably already thought of using a VPN to mask your location and possibly trick the Play Store. And indeed, this is one method you can use.
There are a few VPN apps out there you can use, most of us here in the office have our own favorites. My VPN of choice is TunnelBear, and I'll demonstrate how to use it to access region-locked apps in the following guide:
A colleague on a recent trip to China used a VPN there and recommended it to me. The TunnelBear app was great for that purpose, but I also realized it could also be used to bypass incompatible apps. Here's how:
1. Download TunnelBear from the Play Store.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.