Be Careful About Installing APK Files On Android Phones


Android makes it so easy to get new apps that it’s ridiculous. All you have to do is go to the Play Store, look up the app, and tap “Install.” But, even though the official Google store has millions of apps, you can’t find every app there. For example, some apps that don’t follow Google’s rules or aren’t published because their developers don’t want to pay Google a cut can only be sideloaded, which means installing them from sources that haven’t been officially approved (via Samsung). Most of the time, APK files are used to do this.

APK files are installer packages for Android that you can get from the internet. Often, they come from third parties, like websites that host the files. These apps can be put on Android phones, tablets, and smart TVs. You can also install APKs on Chromebooks by sideloading them. Users can get more apps if they can use these files, but it takes a few extra steps to install them. Some apps are only available as APK files, while others release their latest updates as APK files before they hit the Google Play Store. In the same way, APK repositories are always your best bet if you want to go back to an older version of an app. Also, downloading these installer packages and sideloading the apps can put your privacy and security at risk, so you should be careful and take steps to stay safe.

Be Careful About Installing APK Files On Android Phones, Be Careful About Installing APK Files On Android Phones

Installing APK Files On Android Is Risky

Sideloading does not have quality control because third-party app installer packages do not come from official sources. Google says that almost all apps downloaded from the Play Store are protected by Google Play Protect, which checks your app library for potentially dangerous apps and runs safety checks before installing them on your Android device. If you sideload apps using APK files, you don’t have this safety net.

Pirated apps are also spread through APK packages, so if you download them this way, you’re not helping the people who made them. Even so, piracy isn’t the only thing to worry about when you sideload APK files. Malicious vendors can add adware or malware to a normal app, putting your Android phone or tablet’s health and safety at risk. Adware can make the UI annoying or even unusable, and malware that spreads through APK files can spy on you and steal sensitive information like passwords and personal files.

Because of this real risk, Android has security features built in to stop malicious apps from being sideloaded. For example, by default, Android doesn’t let you install apps from sources you don’t know about. On Android 7 and earlier, this access had to be turned on globally. However, newer versions of Android give users more control over which APK files can be used to install apps. Even if you don’t want to use the Play Store, you should only use trusted APK repositories like F-Droid and stay away from sources that focus on piracy. If you have to install an app from a third-party source, scan the APK file for viruses before you install it to make sure it’s safe.

Read this next: Google Play Store Stops Showing Application Version Numbers

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