Sometimes an Android app you want to install is not available on the Google Play Store. This can happen for a number of reasons: maybe it is geo-blocked, it may contain adult content, or the developer may have deleted it.
The 5 best sites to download Android APK Safely
But even when an app is not available through the usual channels, you still have ways to install it on your device. You need to get a copy of the APK file in order to upload it for later use.
Several sites specialize in offering APK files for download. Some are better than others, so keep reading if you want to find the best sites to download APKs securely.
The Importance of Choosing a Safe APK Site
An APK (short for Android Package) is the primary means of distributing and installing Android applications. When you download an app from Google Play, you download and run an APK file in the background, but you don’t have access to the APK itself.
Since APK files install applications on your system, they can pose a serious security threat. An attacker could modify the APK before installing it, and then use it as a digital Trojan horse to install and run malware.
So, you need to make sure that the site you are using is reliable. He must thoroughly examine all APK files and have a history of security and reliability.
APKMirror is one of the most popular sites for downloading APK files.
The site is owned and operated by the same team that is responsible for the widely read Android news site Android Police, which should reassure you that you are in good hands.
From a security perspective, APKMirror has implemented robust policies:
- Staff check all APK files uploaded to the site prior to publication.
- The site matches cryptographic signatures from new versions of apps to previous versions (to ensure that real developers have signed them).
- New apps are compared to other apps from the same developer to verify their legitimacy.
The bottom line is that if APKMirror cannot verify the validity of an APK file, it will not publish the file. For this reason, you will not find any modified APK, pirated application or paid application on the site.
For each application, you can retrieve older versions, consult various information extracted from Google Play and access a list of associated applications. If an app that you install from APKMirror receives an update from Google Play after installing it on your device, it will automatically update to the latest version.
APKMirror’s biggest traditional competitor is arguably APKPure. Both sites were launched at around the same time. Like APKMirror, the site follows strict security practices to ensure that all APK files that you download are safe and virus-free.
APKPure checks the legitimacy of all applications before publication using SHA1 to ensure the security of the certificate. The cryptographic signatures of the new versions of the applications must correspond to the versions previously published, and the entirely new applications are compared with other software of the same developer.
Again, if APKPure has doubts about the security or origins of an application, the company will not publish it on the site. There is no APK modified on APKPure. In terms of site friendliness, APKPure pulls screenshots, application descriptions, and general metadata directly from Google.
There is also a list of previous versions of apps in case you want to revert to an older version (due to functionality or bugs).
3. APK Store
We really like APKMirror and APKPure. In truth, you should never really have reason to go to another site. But err on the side of caution and quickly present yourself with a few other options.
The first is the APK Store. The old name of the app was APK Downloader.
All APK files are extracted from the Google Play Store so you can have confidence in their safety and security. As with the other sites on this list, there is also plenty of metadata, which means that you can avoid Google Play completely if you want to.
Aptoide is another giant in the APK download world; it has more than 200 million users and was responsible for six billion downloads. Like APKPure, the site offers an Android app that lets you access the store and download APK files directly from your Android device.
The company was also one of the first to adopt blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. The site token, called AppCoins, allows developers to increase their share of revenue, among other uses.
Why isn’t Aptoide closer to the top of this list? In short, because it allows users to manage their own stores and thus allows moded APK files on the platform. They’re well flagged, but if you don’t pay attention, you can accidentally download one.
5. Yalp Store
Yalp Store is different from other applications on this site – there is no web version. Instead, you need to install the app from F-Droid, which is itself one of the best alternatives to Google Play.
Once the Yalp Store app is installed on your Android device, you can use it to download APKs directly from the Google Play Store. This means that you don’t need to worry about middlemen injecting malware into APK files before you get them.
If you have rooted your device, Yalp Store can even update the apps in the background without any intervention on your part. Best of all, you don’t need to have a Google account to download APK files from Google Play. This will appeal to many people who are wary of Google’s privacy practices.
Take extra care before installing an APK
No matter where you download your APK, you should always take responsibility for ensuring that there are no unpleasant surprises in the code. Several services can scan APK files for malware. We recommend dragging and dropping MetaDefender and VirusTotal.