How to download the safest apps outside the Play Store

Apps in the Play Store increasingly block root users. With these tips you can still safely download and install Android apps outside the Play Store.


Android apps outside the Play Store to download

Let’s say we do not recommend using apps outside the Play Store to download and install. Limiting yourself to Google’s digital store is the safest way to find apps because they are checked for malware and other troubles.

If you have run your device, you may still be required to turn to other sources. More and more app-makers are blocking root users. For example, Netflix, which prevents abuse, prevents users from downloading the app from the Play Store.

Google has since last year given each app-maker the opportunity to block root devices in this way. They only need to check the ‘SafetyNet exclusion’ option when they upload their app. One click and a lot of Android users will no longer find the app in the Play Store, or will be notified that their device is incompatible.

App-makers have their reasons in this way to keep a large number of potential paying users from their platforms. Root users get more rights to their Android device and therefore they can more quickly abuse apps. Think of ripping videos in Netflix. But users who root their device for other reasons are also affected.


This is how you prepare your device for installing apk files

By default your device is protected against installing apk files. In this way, unsafe apps do not stand a chance, apart from the few times they have slipped through Google’s security. Through the settings you have the possibility to download and install apps from other sources. For this you go to ‘Settings> Security> Unknown sources’. Although you make your device a bit less safe, this is necessary to install (also trusted) apk files on your device.

This is how you download and install an apk file

Downloading and installing an apk file is very simple. Once you have found the right file, download it as you are used to. When the download is complete, go to ‘Downloads’ on your device, tap the file you just downloaded and install. That’s all. If the installation button is gray, you may have to close the old version of the app first.

These are the disadvantages of downloading an apk file

Downloading an apk instead of an Android app via the Play Store has several drawbacks. Although there is increasingly no other option for root users, it is still good to keep an eye on these disadvantages. First of all, downloading and installing an apk file is more insecure than downloading via the Play Store. Therefore always keep a close eye on where you download a file and who uploaded it.

Another big disadvantage is that you do not get automatic updates. When you download applications from the Play Store, Google automatically installs updates when a new version is available. Download your apk’s, then you have to download and install a new version every time.


This is a safe place to download apk files

There are several places where you can find apk files. We see APK Mirror as the safest place. The website is maintained by the people behind Android Police and apps are manually checked. Also on this website only free apps from the Play Store. So here you will not find illegal downloads of programs that you actually have to pay for. Apps like Netflix can be whipped in without problems. We ourselves use APK Mirror to test eg updates that have not yet been rolled out to us.

To download an app, look at the latest releases on the main page, or use the search engine. Then choose the correct app version. There are often different variants available for arm and x86 devices. To find out which version you need, download the Droid Hardware Info app. Look in this app at ‘Kernel Architecture’. Also check which version of Android you are running, because there are older files for older versions of the OS.

This way you use Pushbullet to get updates via APK Mirror

APK Mirror has a handy alternative for installing updates. On the page of an app you will find a Pushbullet button at the top right. Pushbullet is a handy app that you can find here and with which you can, among other things, synchronize files and messages. Through the Pushbullet button you subscribe yourself to specific channels for app updates. For example, a channel of a specific app with a specific architecture. You will then receive messages about new updates via Pushbullet to download and install. It is not as easy as updating through the Play Store, but it’s pretty close.

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