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Omega Technical Solutions has been serving the Haymarket area since 2007, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

How to Install APK Files, and Why You Might Not Want To

How to Install APK Files, and Why You Might Not Want To

When you download a program or application to your computer, you must install it through its operating system. The same is true for your Android smartphone, but the file names are a bit different, and the process is a little more convoluted… and for good reason. Today, we want to walk you through how APK files work and why it might not be a good idea to install them on your device in the traditional sense.

APK Files and the Android Operating System

If you work with Android devices, you might have already heard the term APK at some point. APK is the file format used for applications for the Android mobile operating system, and just like any program on a computer, these files can include a bevy of data. The APK will contain code for the app and any resources or assets it might use to run on your device. You can think of it as one big package that, when opened, can install an app on an Android device.

While the APK was the standard file format for Android apps until 2021, a new format called AAB, or Android App Bundle, creates APK formats more specifically for your device. AAB allows developers to distribute in-progress apps that have not yet been listed on the Google Play Store. It can be useful for users who want to install older versions of apps, those that have been removed from the Play Store, or those that never made it to the Play Store in the first place.

Sideloading Apps Can Be a Major Security and Copyright Problem

To distribute to the Google Play Store, developers must meet specific requirements and agreements, chief among them security and safety checks. Therefore, any application installed away from the Google Play Store (called “sideloading” in some contexts) has the potential to be a security problem, as there is no telling if a developer or hacker has somehow slipped a malicious file into their application. You only want to download an APK file from the official developer website, and you should be cautious of other sources.

Of course, downloading unauthorized, altered, or cracked applications could raise legal concerns. You could be violating copyright laws, and you must exercise extreme caution to ensure that your business is not engaging in these practices.

Installing APK Files

We want to make one thing clear: if you’re installing APKs on your Android smartphone for work purposes, stop what you're doing and contact your IT department before proceeding. They will want to test the app and ensure that you are not compromising your device by sideloading apps. Plus, it’s hard to guarantee the security of an app sideloaded to your device.

However, for the curious-minded, it’s pretty easy to install APK files on your device, provided you have vetted the application and are okay with some level of risk. Just download the file and try to open it.

Depending on your settings, you might receive a warning that installing apps from this source is not allowed. You can bypass this in your Settings app. All you have to do is turn the toggle under Install Unknown Apps to Allow Permission, then tap Install.

Don’t Leave Security Up to Chance

We always promote a healthy dose of skepticism when installing apps from unknown third parties. If you’re ever unsure about an app’s origins, you can reach out to Omega Technical Solutions for guidance. Contact us at (703) 743-3056 to learn more.

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