There are several reasons why you may look at downloading APK files onto your Android smartphone or tablet. From time to time you may come across an app that isn’t directly available from the Google Play store, but would still like to install it. You may find that an app listing on the Play store is stated as being incompatible with your device and want to find a way around it. Or you may simply want to test out a paid version of an app before buying it.
No matter what reason you have for wanting to download and install APK files, there’s a solution
at hand. The APK Installer app, a free download from the Google Play store, looks to help users bypass all the restrictions Google has implemented to stop APK files being installed on devices, and instead provides a fairly easy platform to manage and install all of your previously downloaded APK files, which need a bit of help to be installed correctly. We’ve taken a closer look at the app across the next two pages.
For more expert tutorials, make sure you pick up the new issue of Android Magazine.
From the main menu of the APK Installer app, select the Install APKs option. The app will now perform a full scan of your device to search for APK files currently stored within it. Depending on the number of installed apps you have on your device, this process can take a while.
What to install?
The app will now list all of the available APK files it has scanned. Use the checkboxes on the right side of the screen to select the files you want to install. Pay close attention to the version number listed in red as you may find that a new version is available.
Because the APK file is not directly from the Google Play store, pay close attention to the permissions required for the app, as installing APK files on your phone will nullify the security options usually provided when downloading. Press the Install button when you’re done.
The installation process
For the most part, you’ll find installing an APK file will take longer than a direct install from the Google Play store. If you’re installing several APK files at one time it may take a few minutes to complete. Once completed you’ll be taken back to the main menu of the APK Installer app.
Did it work?
Now select the Manage Apps option from the main menu. Here you’ll find a complete list of every app installed on your device. Scroll through the list to find the APK files you previously installed, which should now be listed as apps. Repeat the previous steps if they aren’t listed.
Start the backup process
Occasionally you may find that certain apps may stop working on your device, especially APK files, so it’s imperative that you create backups of them. To do so, select the checkboxes of the apps you want to back up and select the Actions tab at the bottom-left of the app.
Select a directory
The backup menu will now appear with details on where the backup will be saved. You can choose to save the backup either by its package name or app name, depending on your preference. When you’re ready to begin the backup, simply press the Save button at the bottom of the menu.
The backup can take a minute or so to complete, and if it worked you’ll next see a confirmation screen. Certain apps may not work when being backed up, so make sure you’re running the latest version of it to give it every chance of being backed up successfully.
Manage your apps
Now that we’ve installed all our APK files and subsequently created a backup of them, it’s time to test them out. If you encounter any problems with the app, or now want to pay for the app, you’ll need to uninstall the APK file. Head back to the Manage Apps section within APK Installer.
Discover more options
Scroll through your apps to find the app you want to uninstall. Long press on it and a new menu will appear offering lots of different options. For the purposes of this tutorial, select the Uninstall option near the top of the list. You can also use this menu to share APK files with friends.
You’ll now see the familiar uninstall menu appear asking you to confirm the process. Once complete, you’ll be taken back to the Manage Apps screen. Feel free to go through all the other installed apps if you want to uninstall them using the APK Installer method.
Connect to desktop
One of the great things about the APK Installer app is that it has a counterpart program available for desktop computers. Go into the app’s Settings menu and select the Desktop tab. Here you can enable the process of using your desktop computer to install APK files onto your device.
Enable USB debugging
For the desktop version to work, you need to enable the USB debugging option within the Developer options menu in your settings. Now connect your device to your desktop via USB and begin transferring APK files over from the desktop program onto your phone or tablet.