Android Customization with APK Files

Owners of Android devices have plenty of options when it comes to customizing appearance and extracting the most out of their devices. From using third-party launchers to using diverse live wallpapers, you can tweak a lot of settings to customize your device. If you’re among those who like customizing their android phones or tablets then you may have heard of APK (.apk) files.

If you are keen on customizing your Android phone but don’t want to wait endlessly for official updates for your device then it is essential that you know the process of installing APK files. In this article we will cover all aspects of downloading and installing APK files on your Android device.

Also See: AirDroid 3: The Best Way to Manage Your Android Phone from Your Desktop

Basics of an APK File

Every operating system relies on specific types of files for software or app installation. To install a new app on a Windows machine, you use .exe files. Macintosh users need .dmg files for the same purpose. Android is a mobile OS and it has a specific file format (.apk) for software installation.

APK is the abbreviation for Android application package.

Why Sideload APK Files on Your Android Device

Those Android users who find the default settings and apps somewhat limiting and wish to push the envelope, should opt for installing APK files. Installing an app from Google Play is quite simple and the process is fully automated. You need not know the background processes at all. However, at times, you may want to get apps or games that are still in beta stage or are still unavailable in your region or device. There are 3 major advantages of installing APK files.

  • Downloading APK files enables you to use apps leaked ahead of the official schedule. This is something casual users will not do, but Android enthusiasts do this all the time.
  • APK files enable you to override carriers and obtain the newest Google updates. You need not wait for a long time to get OTA updates.
  • At times, you may not be able to install apps on your Android device owing to region restrictions imposed by Google. At such times, installing third party APK files will be a necessity.

A Word of Caution

According to F-Secure a mobile technology threat researcher, over 90% of mobile malware is targeted at Android. Hackers often disguise malware as a popular game / app APK to attack. Hence, using sites with dubious reputation to get APK files may prove to be a security risk to your phone.

Also, the cyber law in your country may consider it a serious breach, if you install paid apps for free illegally. So, be cautious and ensure you are not breaking any laws.

How to Install APK Files from a PC

As it is, you will find many sources to get APK files on the internet. It makes sense to download such files from a site that is safe, reliable, and enjoys positive user feedback, to begin with. We recommend XDA which is reasonably safe for APK downloads.

  • First of all, you will need to find the APK file for the game / app you want from the web. When you find it online, download, and save it on the PC.


  • Before proceeding with the installation, ensure your Android device has the right settings enabled to allow installation. You need to go to Menu> Settings > Security and then select Unknown Sources. This ensures the device will allow installation of apps from places outside Google Play.
  • You can either use the Android device’s default file explorer or resort to a third party file manager for smoother APK file installation. There are file manager apps like ES File Explorer and SlideME App Installer that you can use.
  • After downloading the required APK file on your laptop or desktop, you will have to connect the Android phone or tablet to it using a USB cable. The Prompt will appear for choosing connection mode. Select the option ‘media device’. This will allow you access to the content of the phone and folders. Now, copy the APK file from the PC to the desired location on your Android device. Then disconnect the device from your PC.
  • If you are using a third party file manager, launch the app. Then head to the location where you copied the APK file. Tap on the APK file to begin the installation process. After installation is over, the icon will show up in your device’s App list. This process is known as Side-loading.
  • If you do not want to use a third party file manager it is still possible to install APK files on an Android device. You can use the device’s default file manager to locate and install the file. Alternatively, you may download the APK file directly on your phone or tablet. If you do not have a USB cable, send the APK file to the device from the PC using email or cloud apps like Dropbox. Then, tap the file to start installation.

ALSO READ: How to Find When Your Android Phone Will Be Updated to the Latest Version

Installing APK Files From a Browser

There are people who want the quickest solution to any need, be it for Windows or Android! If you are among them and want to install APK files on Android quickly, there is an option. It is possible to install APK files directly from the web browser used in the Smartphone or tablet.

You need to open the developer website or online source where the APK file is available. Once you find the file, download it directly on your device. Once the download is complete, you can tap on the file to begin installation.

In Conclusion

As you can see, installing APK files on your Android Smartphone or tablet is not tedious and you need not perform any hack, root your device, or perform something risky for this. You don’t even need to be a tech geek to do this by yourself! However, try to obtain and install APK files from credible websites and sources. Avoid installing APK files that ask for extra

However, try to obtain and install APK files from credible websites and sources. Avoid installing APK files that ask for extra permissions, for it could be a malware trying to steal your personal information. Ensure the Android device you have has a suitable antivirus installed.