How to install an Android app outside of the Play Store | Digital Trends Spanish

One of the main dividing lines between Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android is that in the latter you can install applications outside of the app stores (or sidesloading). In this way, users can install any Android application that is currently available outside of the Play Store on their cell phone. Yes, it can be risky, but it is possible, and here we are going to show you.

How to install an Android app outside of the Play Store

The popular game Fortnite is a perfect example of such an installation. After a small adjustment to the payment system of Epic games, both Apple and Google brought out Fortnite from their respective app stores. Now, Android players must download and install the Epic Games app directly from the developer in order to play it.

However, Android phones do not enable side downloading of apps by default. The good news is that the process got a lot easier with the release of Android 8.0 Oreo, as it eliminated the need for a system-wide setup. Instead, you can allow trusted apps like Chrome to install non-app store apps.

There are several reasons why you may need to download an APK file. Maybe there is an application (or version) that you cannot get from the Play Store, you want to try an alternative store, or maybe you are looking for access to Google apps on an Amazon device. The process is relatively easy, but we’ll give you some security considerations first.

What does it mean for an application to be of unknown origin?

This means that the application is not verified or distributed through Google Play. Epic Games and the Amazon Appstore They are perfect examples: they are two applications provided by their respective developers, therefore they are not in the Play Store. They are not dangerous, they are simply not supervised or financially linked to Google.

That said, any app you download will have the extension APK, Abbreviation of Android Package Kit. This “kit” includes an installer and the application in question. To run the installer, you just have to press it.

Keep your device safe

Since it is software you are installing, it is not advisable to download Android applications from unknown repositories. You have no idea what is hidden inside these unverified “kits”. Hidden malware could infect your device, steal your information, and even seize your data for a ransom, if the case gets bigger.

Even so, downloading applications from outside the Play Store is not an inevitable danger. The Play Store has a security system to limit problematic and possibly malicious applications, as well as providing a scanner within the Android application: Play Protect. This not only scans the application before it is downloaded, but also scans the downloaded applications that you already have installed.

Play Protect is generally enabled by default, but to verify this you can do the following:

Step 1: open the app Play Store.

Step 2: Press the button Menu in the top left-hand corner.

Step 3: press Play Protect.

Step 4: press the gear icon located in the upper right corner. This will open the Play Protect settings.

Step 5: verify that the option Improves the detection of harmful apps is activated. The option Analyze apps with Play Protect it should also be enabled.

For added protection, consider installing an Android security app so you can reduce the risk of malware. The bottom line is that downloading apps outside of the official market can be risky. Don’t download apps from unknown sources, only from developers you know.

That said, now we can prepare your Android for it sideloading.

How to install Android app outside the Play Store

Enable “unknown origin”

By default, your Android device does not allow the installation of applications distributed outside of its authorized stores: Google Play on Pixel phones, Google Play and Galaxy Store on Samsung phones, and Amazon Appstore on Kindle tablets. As manufacturers tend to customize the Android operating system for their devices, the same set of instructions cannot be applied. That is why we provide three examples.


These instructions apply to “pure” Android, as seen on Nexus and Pixel products and on various phones using Android One.

Android 8.0 and higher

Step 1: open the Settings.

Step 2: go to Apps and notifications.

Step 3: touch Advanced to expand the settings.

Step 4: Choose Access to special applications.

Step 5: touch Install unknown apps.

Step 6: select the source application, like Chrome.

Step 7: tap the switch next to Allow from this source to enable the download.

Android 7.0 Nougat and earlier versions

Step 1: open the Settings.

Step 2: touch Security.

Step 3: tap the switch next to Unknown sources to activate this function. It appears in Device Administration.

Step 4: press To accept if any box appears asking for your confirmation.


Although Samsung uses Android, it modifies the interface, so the instructions are different. The screenshots shown above are from the latest version of October 2020.

Android 8.0 Oreo and above

Step 1: open the Setting.

Step 2: Choose Biometric data and security.

Step 3: touch Install unknown apps.

Step 4: Select the trusted application from where you want the APK file to be installed, such as Chrome or My Files.

Step 5: tap the switch next to Allow from this source to enable the download.

Android 7.0 Nougat and earlier versions

Step 1: open the Settings.

Step 2: Choose Security.

Step 3: tap the switch next to Unknown sources to activate this function. It appears in Device management.

Step 4: touch To accept in the pop-up window.


Like Samsung, Amazon uses a different interface, which is why it has a slightly different set of instructions.

Recent Kindle Fire tablets

Step 1: open the Setting.

Step 2: Choose Security and privacy.

Step 3: tap the switch next to Apps from Unknown Sources to enable the download.

Older Kindle Fire Tablets

Step 1: touch Plus to access the dashboard Setting.

Step 2: Choose Device.

Step 3: tap the button Activated beside Allow installation of applications.

Step 4: Press the button To accept in the pop-up window.

How to find an APK file on your phone

Android users typically download APK files through a web browser or marketplace. For example, Amazon provides a link to its Appstore application stored in its cloud. If you touch the yellow button Get Amazon Appstore on the website this will be downloaded to your device’s default location, which is usually downloads. You can find this folder using the following applications:

  • Google: Records
  • Samsung: My files or Files
  • LG: File manager or Files
  • Lenovo: Downloads or Files

Third-party providers like Epic Game and Amazon Appstore generally download the APK file, install the app, and then remove the download. This way you don’t have to deal with the APK file on your own, which is nice.

If you are having trouble finding downloaded APK files on your device, you can install a free file manager app. A couple of good examples are ASTRO File Manager Y Cx File Explorer.

How to install an APK

After following the steps outlined above, you should be able to hit the downloaded APK to install it. Otherwise, the source application may need permission to install the download. On devices with Android 8.0 Oreo and later versions, you can grant the permission as follows:

Step 1: tap the icon Settings when prompted.

Step 2: touch Allow from this source.

Step 3: Press the button Behind to begin the installation.

If you have an older device, activate the option Unknown sources to install the application outside of the store.

Putting everything in order

Once you install the application, find the downloaded APK file and delete it, so that it does not take up space on your cell phone. If you think that you are not going to download any other application, go to the application that you used to install the download and deactivate the option Allow from this source. On devices with Android 7.0 Nougat and earlier versions, disable the option Unknown sources.

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