How can I download apps without installing Google Play?

With Android being the most popular mobile operating system globally, the Google Play Store serves as the official app store for downloading apps on Android devices. However, many users want options to get apps outside of Google Play. Thankfully, there are several ways to download Android apps without the Play Store.

What is Google Play Store and why would you want an alternative?

The Google Play Store is the default app store installed on all Android devices. It provides access to over 3 million apps ranging from popular social media apps to niche hobby apps.

Google Play offers several benefits:

  • Easy centralized location to find and download Android apps
  • Trusted source for apps compared to unknown third-party stores
  • Seamless updates for your installed apps
  • Virus protection offered by Google Play Protect

However, there are some key downsides to relying solely on the Play Store:

  • Google Play Store is not available in some countries due to restrictions
  • Heavy reliance on stable WiFi connection for large app downloads
  • Google Play Store does not offer certain restricted apps in some regions
  • Downloading paid apps requires credit card information
  • Parental controls may block access to age-restricted apps

Many Android users want the flexibility to get apps from alternative sources. The app selection may be limited in Google Play based on your region. Users in restricted countries may have no access at all. Some apps like gaming emulators or file sharing tools are banned from Google Play but available on third-party app stores.

There are valid reasons Android owners may want to look beyond just the Google Play Store to download apps. Thankfully, Android provides that flexibility if you want more options.

App stores alternative to Google Play

Here are some of the top alternative app stores that offer apps you won’t find on Google Play:


Aptoide is one of the largest alternative app stores available globally. It offers over 1 million apps ranging from popular apps like Facebook to region restricted apps and games.

Key Features:

  • Apps are uploaded and maintained by independent developers
  • No account needed to download apps
  • Apps frequently updated close to Google Play release schedule
  • Sections for trending and newly added apps


F-Droid is a community based open source app store with a curated selection of over 4000 apps. It is a great option for open source Android apps.

Key features:

  • Only open source apps available
  • Apps can be downloaded anonymously without account
  • Trusted source with community vetted apps
  • Alternative app versions not allowed on Google Play

Amazon Appstore

Amazon maintains their own Android app store as an alternative to Google Play. It offers apps optimized for Amazon devices like the Fire tablet.

Key features:

  • Over 400,000 apps and games
  • Free app of the day promotions
  • Apps tailored for Amazon devices
  • Trusted source as Amazon curates all apps


APKMirror offers an extensive library of APK files for apps and games. Developers upload APKs of their apps for direct download.

Key features:

  • Available APKs frequently updated with new versions
  • Trusted source as APKs come directly from developers
  • Detailed app information like recent changes
  • Wide selection of region restricted APKs


APKPure is one of the most extensive collections of APK files beyond just Google Play. Millions of APKs can be browsed and downloaded.

Key features:

  • Huge library of APK files across apps and games
  • App dashboard shows recent updates and comments
  • Virus scanning offered for all uploaded APKs
  • Useful for downloading region restricted APKs

These alternative app stores give you plenty of options beyond Google Play to get the apps you want.

How to install app stores on Android

Here are the steps to get an alternative app store downloaded and installed:

Enable Unknown Sources

First, your Android device needs to allow installation of apps from unknown sources. This is disabled by default as a security measure.

To enable:

  1. Go to Android Settings > Security
  2. Toggle on “Unknown Sources”
  3. Confirm with “OK”

You may need to toggle this back off after installing apps to keep your device secure.

Download Desired App Store

With unknown sources enabled, you can now directly download the APK file for the app store you want:

  • Aptoide –
  • F-Droid –
  • Amazon Appstore –
  • APKMirror or APKPure – Browse site and select desired APK to download

The APK file will be downloaded to your device’s “Downloads” folder.

Install the App Store

To finish installing:

  1. Go to your Android Downloads folder
  2. Tap the APK file you downloaded
  3. Accept any installation prompts
  4. The app store icon will appear on your home screen once installed

The third party app store is now ready to use and download apps from.

How to download apps without app store

You can also directly download Android APK files without using a dedicated app store as the middleman. Here are some options:

Browser Download

Many Android apps have download pages on their official sites that allow manual APK downloads:

  1. Enable unknown sources on your device
  2. On your browser navigate to the site hosting the APK
  3. Click the download button and the APK will save to your device
  4. Open your downloads folder and tap the APK to install

This lets you go directly to the source for the apps you want.

APK Download Sites

Websites like APKMirror and APKPure allow APK downloads for most apps without an app store. You can browse apps, see recent changes, and download APKs easily.

File Sharing Sites

Developers often upload Android APKs to file sharing sites like Dropbox or Google Drive. If you know the direct file link, you can download and install it.

Android File Transfer

You can transfer APK files from a computer to an Android device using a USB cable and software like Android File Transfer. Once transferred, tap the APK file to install.

With Unknown Sources enabled, these direct APK download options give you flexibility to get Android apps from a variety of sources.

Important considerations when avoiding Google Play

While downloading apps outside of Google Play offers benefits, there are some key factors to keep in mind:

App Security

Google Play Store thoroughly vets every app for malware or threats before approval. Alternative sources do not necessarily offer the same level of security. Only download APKs from trusted developer sites or app stores.

Verify app reviews, download counts, and stick to well-known sources when possible. Use antivirus apps and common sense to keep your device safe.

App Reliability

Apps from Google Play are optimized for a wide range of Android devices. Apps from unknown sources may have compatibility issues or bugs on your specific phone. Be prepared for more instability or crashing compared to Play Store apps.


The Play Store automatically handles updates for installed apps. Without Google Play, you will need to monitor version numbers and manually update APKs you’ve installed as new versions are made available.

Lack of Google Play Services

Many apps rely on Google Play Services for functionality like maps, sign-in, and cloud messaging. Apps installed outside of Play will lose this access and related features may not work properly.

Paid Apps Limitations

The Google Play billing system enables paid app purchases and subscriptions. Apps installed from third-parties will not have in-app purchases available. Look for apps offering one-time purchases if needed.

While downloading apps outside of Google Play offers more flexibility, be aware of the limitations and take necessary security precautions for the best experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about downloading Android apps without the Play Store:

Is it illegal to download apps outside of Google Play?

Generally no, it is not illegal to download apps from sources other than Google Play. As long as you are downloading apps legally through the proper channels, you are not breaking any rules or laws. However, some app developers may prohibit third-party distribution of their apps. Be sure to download APKs only from authorized sources.

Is it safe to install APKs from outside Google Play?

APKs from unknown sources do carry an inherent security risk, as they are not vetted by Google. However, APKs downloaded from trusted sites and app stores are generally safe if good security practices are followed. Stick to well-known sources, read reviews, have antivirus protection, and inspect app permissions to minimize risk.

Can I still use paid Google Play apps?

Unfortunately paid apps, in-app purchases, and subscriptions through Google Play billing will no longer function if not installed via the Play Store. You will need to seek out free or paid apps distributed outside of Google Play.

Will alternative app stores drain my battery more?

In some cases yes. Apps optimized for Google Play are designed to conserve battery life on Android devices. Alternative app stores may offer apps not finely tuned for your specific device leading to reduced battery life. Results can vary across devices.

How do I update apps without Google Play?

You will need to re-download updated APK files manually as new versions are made available. Check the app’s site, the store you downloaded from, or APK download sites to stay on top of the latest releases. Unfortunately, auto-updates are a key Google Play benefit you’ll lose.


Android offers the flexibility to download apps from outside the default Google Play Store. Taking advantage of alternative app stores or direct APK downloads provides access to region restricted, banned, paid, or niche apps you can’t get on Google Play.

However, the benefits of Play Store integration like automatic updates, app optimization, security, and Google Play Services may be compromised. Understanding the tradeoffs allows you to make the right choice for your app needs. With prudent security measures and awareness of limitations, you can safely unlock the world of Android apps beyond the Play Store walls.

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