Google’s Play Store is filled with some of the most popular apps in the world, as well as plenty of lesser-known ones. You can find anything from your favourite social media sites, to games of all types. However, sometimes, you can come across apps which are not available for download through the official app store for various reasons.
These apps are often flagged on your phone as “not secure” but that’s often simply because they haven’t been approved by Google. There are various reasons why games and apps may not be in the Play Store. It can be a money reason, as very small businesses may not be able to afford Google’s fees, or it could be due to the app not meeting some of Google’s legal or privacy requirements. Google may choose to remove, or even ban, an application altogether, simply because it violates Google’s policies. Sometimes, they’re forced to delete an app in certain countries due to local legal rules or restrictions.
Luckily, apps exist outside of the Play Store. Here’s how you can download most apps that aren’t in the official app store.
Change the Settings to Allow Downloads
Whether you’re using your smartphone or a tablet to download apps, the first thing you’ll have to do is change the settings on your phone to allow outside downloads. The way to do that is:
- Go to “Settings” on your Android phone/tablet
- Scroll down and select “Biometrics and Security”
- In this menu, there will be an “Install Unknown Apps” option
- You may have to choose the app you’ll be using to install apps, such as Chrome, or Firefox. Select the browser you use most often on your device.
- Tap on the app, and then tap on the toggle to turn the permission on
Now, your phone allows you to go to websites from your chosen browser and download files as you like. Otherwise, your Google phone blocks apps that aren’t in their Play Store, making you go through this process to download them.
Changing Permissions on Older Phones
Since newer software updates are only available on devices released relatively recently, older versions of Android phones and tablets may have a slightly different way to set permissions to install apps not available in the Google Play Store.
- Go to Settings on your Android 8.0 or newer version
- Tap on “Apps and Notifications”
- Scroll down and tap “Advanced”
- Select “Special App Access”
- Find “Install Unknown Apps” in the drop-down menu
- Choose the browser app you use most often and will use to download the apps
- Tap the browser app, and it’ll come to a screen with a toggle that says “Allow From this Source,” tap the toggle to turn it on
That should remove any blocks from Android devices.
Finding Apps Not in the Play Store
There’s a plethora of apps you can download. Some people want to try apps that aren’t available in their country, find apps not yet released in their area, or apps that are restricted from the official store. You may want to play an older version of an app or game that doesn’t exist in the Play Store anymore. There are a few different ways to find these apps:
- A lot of apps, especially leisure apps, like online casinos, or international games, can be found right through the developer’s official website, as they are usually never available from third-party APK stores. It’s likely they’ll have a link that’ll say, “Download this app for Android.” Tap it, press “allow” when the option comes up on your Android phone, and it’ll install like any other app (here is a how-to on downloading casino mobile apps).
- You can find APK (Android Package Kits) from websites online, most commonly, APKMirror.com (see full list of safe APK websites here). They publish apps from credible developers and their website allows you to search and scroll through cool apps and recommendations. Tap on the app you want to download, allow Google to open the installation package, and it will install right onto your phone with minimal hassle.
- In both cases, once the download is complete (it’ll tell you in your notification bar), you can tap the app and it allows the installation process to continue. You’ll likely be warned by Google about security threats and have to press “Okay” or “Allow” before the app actually installs. You should then be able to open the app and play.
You should know that Google does scan apps for viruses and malware, as well as other suspicious activity. When you leave the safety net of Google’s Play Store, you do open yourself up to the potential risk. The best way to stay safe is to continue to download vouched for apps – like those from big gaming companies or associated with name brands, as they want to make sure their app is safe and can be used. You can also read reviews online and other users will tell you if something is safe to download. While there is a security risk, it’s rare and minimal when it comes to apps.
Once you can navigate your safety around the web, you open yourself up to a whole new world of apps that any gamer can appreciate.