What is APK file and how to install it on Android?

Doesn’t matter if you are not a power user. If you own an Android phone, you must have come across the word “APK file”. So what really is it and how do you install APK on Android.

Normally every Android user installs a ton of apps from the play store or another app distribution platform on their phone without even knowing that in fact, at the core of every application, there sits an APK extension. Read on to know everything about what it really is and how can you install it on your phone.

What is an APK file?

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Whenever you install an application for Play store, you don’t get to see the APK file. Instead an application is installed automatically with a single tap but there may come a time when you manually need to do that for some apps and for that you need to understand what is it so you can easily install APK on Android.

The letters APK stand for Android Package Kit. It is essentially a file format made for Android-based devices for distribution and installation of mobile apps because Google’s Android does not support any other format. Just like the Microsoft Windows require .exe file for installing software, APK does the same for Android.

How to View the contents of an APK file?

Before you install APK on Android, if you wish to see the contents of an APK file, it’s quite easy. Such files can be opened up by Zip compression tools like WinRAR or WinZip.

So if you want to explore the contents of such a file, all you have to do is rename the file to any name and change the extension to “.zip”. There! you are good to go now. You can also open the file directly by opening a zip app on your phone and through that you can navigate to the APK and tap to open it without installing it on your phone.

What does an APK file contain?

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The Android Package Kit contains all the necessary files and data to install and run a single program. The data inside an APK file is elaborate and extensive but here are some strands of the most important data present in an Android package.

  • META-INF/: Contains the manifest file, the certification of the application and a list of resources in the archive
  • lib/: The directory contains the code that is specific to a software layer of a processor e.g. the code may be different for x89, ARM and ARM v7 types of processors
  • resources.arsc: The compiled resources, such as strings, used by the app
  • res/: Resources, such as images, that were not compiled into┬áresources.arsc
  • assets: a directory containing applications assets, which can be retrieved by AssetManager.
  • AndroidManifest.xml: Describes the name, version, and contents of the APK file
  • classes.dex: These are the compiled Java classes to be run on the device in .dex format

How to install APK on Android?

One of the main differences between Android and iOS is that Android easily allows you to install third-party applications, thus helping you in customizing it as well as yielding your needed productivity out of it.

Whenever you download and install APK file, Android recognizes is instantly, hence all you need to do is tap on the file to install. However, it’s not that easy, because, for the security of your device, your OS blocks the apps from third-party sources so you have to manually toggle the option off.

Here’s how to do it:

  • First, go to the settings of your device
  • Look for the Security and Privacy option and tap on it
  • There you’ll find a toggle for the “unknown sources
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Turn it on and you’ll be prompted by a warning, stating the risks of downloading third-party apps and how they can affect your phone with malicious content. Once you have allowed the installation of apps from unknown sources.

  • Open file manager on your phone and go to the folder in which you have downloaded your APK file
  • Tap on the file and it will ask for your permission to install
  • Once you allow the app, the installation will continue and viola!

Head to your home screen and there you can see that your desired app is installed. Make sure that you really trust the app you are installing. Because once you install APK on Android that is corrupted, it may badly affect your phone.

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