Photo of Google Chrome's warning for installing third party apps
Android is an open source platform and, thus, you have more options than you do with something like iOS. One of those freedoms is the ability to install third party apps from outside of the Google Play Store. It’s not a practice we recommend because the Play Store has so many security measures. However, for whatever reason, you want to install something from somewhere else. We can definitely still help with that.

There are two ways to install third party apps without the Google Play Store. The first is through third party app stores like F-Droid, Amazon’s App Store, and others. The second method is finding APKs from websites and manually installing them. We will go over both methods in this tutorial.


A photo of the install permissions in Android Pie

How to install APKs

Another popular thing to do is install APKs from websites. This is, by far, the most dangerous way to install apps. However, there are a few sites where we don’t mind recommending it, including APKMirror. The process is quite easy and you shouldn’t have too many problems doing it.

A photo of Android Pie's permission dialog

This is how APK installations look on Android Oreo and higher.

Android 8.0 Oreo and later

Google changed how APK installations work in Android 8.0 Oreo. It hasn’t changed since, although Android Q may bring a bit of nuance to that. This is how to install APKs on all modern versions of Android:

  • Download the APK you want to install.
  • You can either navigate to your Download folder using a file browser app or simply begin the install by clicking on the completed download in your mobile browser.
  • Android will ask you to grant permission to either the file browser or your web browser to install the app. Grant the permission and it should bounce you back to the installation screen. If not, navigate back to your Download folder after granting the permission to try again.
  • The app should safely install.

It will work as any other app you download. You can find the icon in the app drawer, open the app, and do whatever. There are some apps that may not install on your device due to compatibility reasons. Additionally, many apps with Internet permissions may hound you to download the latest version on the Google Play Store before it’ll let you use the app. There isn’t much you can do about that if it happens.
A photo of the installation app permission

Install from Unknown Sources method

Before Android Oreo, users had to enable the Install from Unknown Sources setting to install third party APKs on their devices. The process otherwise remains mostly the same.

  • Download the APK you want to install.
  • Navigate to your phone settings menu then to the security settings. Enable the Install from Unknown Sources option.
  • Use a file browser and navigate to your download folder. Tap the APK to begin the installation process.
  • The app should safely install.

Everything we said earlier still applies here. Some apps may simply not install for compatibility reasons and apps may hound you to get the updated version from the Play Store before it lets you use the app. This method only works on devices running versions of Android older than Android Oreo.


A photo of Amazon's Appstore starting up

Third party app stores

Third party apps stores are another popular way to get apps without the Play Store. There are a few good ones, including F-Droid for you open source fans out there and Amazon’s App Store is decent as well. You can check out our list of the best third party app stores by clicking here.

  • Choose the third party app store you want and download the APK.
  • Follow the steps above to install the APK to your device.
  • Once the store is installed, open it up and surf for whatever apps you want. Download and install them as you would any other app store.
  • On devices running Android Oreo or higher, make sure you grant the app store permission to install apps to avoid problems. Those on older versions of Android need to make sure the Install from Unknown Sources option is enabled or installs will fail.

You should be able to open your new third party app store, download apps, and install them without worries. To be frank, most apps you find on most third party apps stores are available in the Play Store anyway. However, there are some exclusives here and there. Plus, F-Droid in particular is a neat place for some power user tools and stuff like that.


You should be able to easily install APKs and third party app stores now. If we missed anything, let us know in the comments!

Comments
Read comments