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.
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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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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.