One of the more sensible security features on Android devices is that you’re not allowed to install apps from outside the Play Store. Not by default, anyway. But seeing as there are plenty of great apps you can find outside the Play Store, you may want to venture beyond those walls every now and then.
Luckily, it’s fairly easy to install apps from unknown sources in Android, although the method varies depending on which Android version you’re on. One rule applies for people using Android 7 and below, and another for Android 8.0 Oreo and Android 9.0 Pie (and onwards). Here we’ll show you both ways.
Install Apps without Play Store in Android 8.0 Oreo and 9.0 Pie
As of Android 8.0, the method to install apps from unknown sources changed. Instead of the previous method where you gave permission to download APKs through any existing app on your phone, this version forced you to give permission to specific apps that are allowed to install APKs from unknown sources.
To set these permissions, go to “Settings -> Apps & notifications -> Advanced -> Special app access -> Install unknown apps.”
Here, select the app (usually your Internet browser) that you want to grant permission to install from unknown sources. Then once you’ve tapped it, tap “Allow from this source” to enable unknown sources for that specific app.
Install Apps without Play Store in Android 7.0 Nougat and Older
App packages for Android are packaged in APK files which can also be downloaded from outside the Play Store (such as through your web browser). Before attempting to install APK files, however, you must first allow your phone to install from “Unknown Sources” (i.e. non-Play Store apps).
To do this, navigate to “Settings -> Security,” and check the box marked “Unknown Sources,” then tap “OK’ and “Trust.”
Find APKs Outside Google Play Store
Once you’ve enabled unknown sources, it’s time to download the APKs you want. Maybe you already have a site you trust for downloading APKs. If not, we recommend APKMirror as a good place to find legal APKs of old versions of Play Store apps, free apps, and so on.
You can download APKs directly through the web browser on your phone, at which point you’ll receive a message stating, “This type of file can harm your computer.” Don’t worry, if you’re getting your file from APKMirror or another site you trust, then your phone’s perfectly safe.
Download the file, then open the APK from the pull-down notification menu on your phone or by browsing the “Downloads” folder on your phone’s file manager. Tap Install and your fancy new app should be ready shortly.
You can also download APKs through the browser on your PC, at which point you’ll need to transfer the file over to your phone via microUSB or wirelessly, and install from there.
Install Using Google Drive, Dropbox and Other Cloud Services
Alternatively, if you’re download the APK on a device other than your phone, you should be able to navigate to it on your device, then upload it to a cloud service such as Google Drive or Dropbox. Once you’ve done this, you can access it through Drive or Dropbox on your phone and open it directly from the cloud service, beginning the installation process.