APK stands for Android Package Kit, which is a type of file format used by Android when installing apps and updates. APK files can be downloaded from the Play Store directly through the application on the device or from third-party download sites like APK Mirror or F-Droid.
While downloading APK files from sites other than the Google Play store may initially seem to be good for competition, the prevalence of malware & viruses on 3rd party stores means that less than 2% of files are downloaded outside the Play store.
Loading files from outside the Google Play store (sideloading) typically requires you to “root” your phone which bypasses basic security settings. You can then load the APK files using developer mode, though we have a guide for loading APK files without developer mode which allows slightly more security.
APK files can be easily cracked or downloaded on any Android device. It is possible to manually edit an APK file to disable certain permissions or features. These changes can be made and shared through third-party applications on a device, and may be uploaded to the Play Store for distribution to other users.
APK files are divided into two types:
- Primary APKs
- Secondary APKs
Primary APKs are used for distribution through the Play Store. They can contain the latest version of the application and are normally locked down.