Installing apps to your Android device is one of the main reasons to own a smartphone or tablet. And apps themselves come in all shapes and sizes and uses that you could probably find an app for just about anything.

The simplicity of installing apps to your Android device is encouraging; after you install one, you want to install more. But first, you need to know how to install apps to your Android device.

Installing Apps with Google Play Store

Android has its own dedicated platform for Android users to download and install apps that they want, the equivalent of the App Store found on iOS devices. It houses an exhausting list of apps that can corner any niche use, really, as niche as you want to go. And, better yet, it’s incredibly easy to find the apps you want, download them and install them. Here’s what you do:

1. Locate and launch the Google Play Store app. Its icon is a colorful triangle. It should be on one of your home screens or, if not, inside your App Drawer where you’ll find every installed app. If you’re coming from an iOS device, you should make note that not every app is on the home screen.

2. You’ll see a lot of different icons, but more importantly, you want to focus on the very top of the screen. You’ll see a search bar. Tap it. Your virtual keyboard will appear.

3. Type in an app you want to install. Try searching for something that’s free, like Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Twitter or even YouTube.

search for the app

4. As you’re typing, you’ll notice a small drop down menu shifting the more letters you add. Those are you search results. The Google Play Store will actively search for an app that matches the letters you type. So, if you typed ‘You,’ then, chances are, you’ll get YouTube in the search results. At any rate, select the app that you want from the search results.

click install to download and install the app

5. When you selected the app from the search results, it brought you straight to its information page. Here you can read about the highlights of an app, a summary and many of its features. If you’re satisfied with what you see, go ahead and tap Install. Afterwards, it will immediately download and install the app straight to your Android device.

Installing Apps with an APK

While, yes, Android does have its own platform for app distribution, you actually don’t have to use it. Unlike the iOS equivalent, the App Store, you can forego the traditional method and download and install apps from other websites. It’s thanks to the easy method of distributing APK files (or Android Package) and by way of enabling “Unknown sources.” This is known as “sideloading.”

1. Locate and launch the Settings app. Its icon is a gear. You can find it on your home screens or inside your App Drawer.

2. In Settings, head down to Security and select it.

check unknown sources

3. In Security, locate Unknown sources. Depending on your device, there will be a slider or a box next to Unknown sources. Checkmark it if it’s a box or move the slider to the right if it’s a slider.

4. Retrieve an APK from a different source. There’s dozens of websites that offer free Android apps. However, you should be warned. Downloading and installing third-party apps and apps from other websites can be dangerous business. You could end up with malware and no one wants to deal with that, let alone you. If you can help it, try to stick to the Google Play Store.

  • To be clear, though, there are plenty of sites that are great alternatives to the Google Play Store. Websites like APKMirror and APKPure are perfect examples of sites placing security above all else.
  • Steer away from sites offering free versions of retail apps. Chances are you’ll get fed malware on a spoon rather than the real deal.

find app in file manager

5. Locate the APK file on your Android device. It will be wherever you place downloads or a specific location you sent it to. Try looking in the File Manager app or the Downloads app.

select install to install the app

6. Since you downloaded the file as an APK, selecting it will start the installation process, just like a setup.exe would on a computer. Tap it and select Install.

7. Fire up the new installed app. Depending on the app, it will need permission from you to use various features on your Android device. For example, an app that works with your camera may need permission to use the camera or else it can’t function correctly. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth the risk.