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What are APK files? Why are they used?

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Most Android users, if they are a layman, don’t know the first thing about APK’s even though they might be dealing with them daily. However, if you’re a bit of an Android techie or a power user, then you’d have come across the term.

Whatever the case may be, understanding what APK’s are and how they function can enhance your Android experience, and we are going to delve into the topic and get you up to speed on everything you need to know.

The term APK stands for, Android Package Kit, and is a file format used for distributing and installing apps within Android. These files are similar to the .exe files that you must have come across on your PC before. These .exe files are used to install software on your PC while the APK performs a similar function on Android mobile phones.

Also read: How to get free Google Play credit?

Why are APK files used?

APK files are used for many different reasons. For example, you might want to use a new feature of an app on your phone, but you haven’t received the update for your device yet. Well simply go ahead and install the latest version of that app by downloading its APK File.

In another scenario, a particular app might not be available for download in your region – take the example of Spotify, that has been around in countries like the US and UK for years but only just arrived in India last year. Well, you could go ahead and install the APK for that specific app and use it regularly, just like any other app.Top 15 Android tips and tricks for power users | Candid.Technology A word of caution, however, since you are downloading APK files from the internet, there is a high chance that you could also download a virus or some malware on your device. 

Downloading APKs from the PlayStore, however, eliminates this risk as Google Play Protect verifies them. So, while you might find many more options available on the internet, always download APKs from a trusted website and make sure that the APK you’re downloading is not illegal to use.

Also read: What are Exploit kits and eight ways to protect yourself

How do I get an APK?

The most commonly used method of acquiring and using and APK is by downloading an app from the Google Play Store. However there’s not one but two processes happening here – the APK file is first downloaded and then installed by the Play Store Service on your device – and it appears as a single process to the user on the outside.

The second way to install an APK file is by downloading it directly from the internet through your browser. This is known as sideloading an app. However, in this case, you will have to manually install the APK on your device after downloading the file.

Steps to download and install an APK file using your browser

  • Open your browser and search for your desired APK. For example, Snapchat APK.
  • Next, you open one of the APK distributing websites and select your APK file of choice to download. Make sure you choose a safe site and do your research before downloading, to avoid downloading any malicious software. 
  • After downloading the APK, open the file and hit the Install option. You will be shown a prompt asking your permission to download an APK from an unknown source. Make sure to check the Unknown Sources option and then return to the previous page and hit Install once again.
  • Now your APK file will be installed on your device. Note that after downloading an APK file from your browser for the first time, you won’t have to repeat Step 3 and can directly go ahead and install the APK.

Following are some of the safe websites for downloading APKs:,, Aptoide

Also read: How to sync Android contacts with Gmail account?

Kelan Reay Baretto

Kelan Reay Baretto