The official source of Android apps is the Android Market. This app source can be accessed online using a Web browser, or right from the Android Market application that Android devices usually come with. Despite the fact that Google made the Android Market, they did not restrict users from getting their apps elsewhere. This is the thing that sets Google apart from other mobile platform developers that control their app gates with an iron hand.
If you look around the Web, you can find many sites offering Android apps. The apps on such sites may or not be in the official Android Market. Some Android app developers don’t publish their Android apps on the Android Market for a variety of reasons. For example, one possible reason would be to avoid the cost of publishing apps on the Market. Another possible good reason would be that of an Android app that doesn’t comply with Google rules for the Android Market.
The safest and largest source of Android apps is, of course, the Android Market. But, there are cases when a really useful and handy Android app is not available there. Several popular app markets are available. Some of the well-known ones are AppBrain, GetJar, SlideME, MobiHand onlyAndroid, and Aproov–although by mentioning them, we are not necessarily guaranteeing that the apps on those sites are safe or will run on your device.
You must ensure that a third-party app is compatible with your Android device. There are apps that would only run under certain versions of Android but not under others. To be sure of this, take time to check the features of the app before installing.
There are also apps that will install correctly and work on your Android device but with a weird-looking UI. This is mainly because there are apps optimized for a certain display size and may not look good on other screen sizes.
The apps from the Android Market are very easy to install: just search, click Install, and enjoy your app. That’s how easy it is with Android Market. With third-party apps, however, you need to go through several steps. As a safety precaution, there is an option in your phone to allow or disallow installation of apps from non-Market sources.
If you want to allow installation of non-Market apps on your phone, go to Menu > Settings > Applications and make sure “Unknown sources” is checked.
You’re also going to need a file browser app so that you can view the files in your phone’s storage. A good file browser app that you can get free from the Android Market is ASTRO File Manager. Install such file browser app before you proceed.
Once you’ve done that, you can now install from third-party sources–and for that you have three alternate methods.
The first method requires only your Android phone connected to the Internet:
The second method requires your Android phone and a desktop/laptop connected to the Internet:
The third method requires the use of a third-party installer app. Such apps are similar to the Android Market app, except that it uses non-Market sources. Once you have a third-party installer app on your phone, you can use it to search and install non-Market apps right on your Android phone.
Be careful when installing apps from third-party sources. Some apps can contain malware, so make sure you get apps from reliable sources.
It is indeed nice to know that we all have the freedom of being able to install any app we like on our Android devices. Customizing our gadgets will definitely bring out the artist within us and allow us to assert our individuality and uniqueness.
What non-Market apps have you installed on your Android phone?