Sometimes, an Android app you want to install is not available in the Google Play Store. This can happen for many reasons: perhaps it’s geo-blocked, it could contain adult content, or the developer might have removed it.
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 so you can sideload it.
Several sites specialize in offering APK files for download. Some are better than others, so keep reading if you want to discover the best sites for downloading APKs safely.
The Importance of Choosing a Safe APK Site
APK is the Android file format. Short for Android Package Kit, it’s the primary way Android apps are distributed and installed. When you download an app from Google Play, you’re downloading and running an APK file in the background, but you have no access to the APK itself.
Because the APK files install apps on your system, they can pose a serious security threat. A person with malicious intentions could modify the APK before you install it, then use it as a digital Trojan horse to install and run malware.
Thus, if you’re downloading APKs from outside the Play Store, you need to ensure that the site you use is reliable. Google’s Play Protect security system will scan any apps you sideload, but the sites you download them from should thoroughly vet all APKs and have a history of security and reliability, too.
🚀 ApkRock – The Best Collection of Apps and Games
The biggest mainstream competitor to Google Play is arguably APKROCK. Like Google Play, this APK downloader abides by rigorous security practices to make sure all the APKs you save are safe and virus-free.
So how is APKROCK safe? The site verifies the legitimacy of all apps before publishing by using SHA1 to ensure the certificate is safe. Cryptographic signatures for new versions of apps must match previously published versions, and entirely new apps are matched against other software from the same developer.
Take Extra Precautions When You Use an APK Download Site
No matter where you download your APK file from, you should always take responsibility to ensure no nasty surprises are lurking in the code. And don’t be tempted to download paid apps for free—not only is it wrong, but it’s also by far the most common way that malware ends up on people’s phones.
Several services can scan APK files for malware; we recommend the drag-and-drop MetaDefender and VirusTotal tools. And while you don’t need anti-virus software on Android most of the time, if you download a lot of APKs, it might be worth installing protection on your phone as well.