Do you ever browse online and stumble upon a program for your Android that you are dying to install on your phone, but when you check the Google Play Store, it’s not there? There is another option for installing apps on your phone. It’s called sideloading, and it’s not complicated to do. However, it does come with risks you need to be aware of.
What is sideloading?
Sideloading is a term for installing apps to your Android phone by bypassing the Google Play Store. Instead, you directly download the APK file to your phone. APK stands for Android Package Kit, and it is the installation files for Android.
There are many reasons why someone may want to sideload an app. For one, it allows developers to test versions of their apps. If you’re not a developer, you can use it to install updates to programs before they are pushed to your phone automatically. There are other safe, useful apps out there that just haven’t gone through the Play Store for one reason or another.
Of course, adding apps to your phone from the Google Play Store is the safest (though not foolproof) way to enjoy new apps without worrying about viruses and malware. Consider yourself warned!
If you’ve had a new phone previous to Android Oreo and sideloaded apps to it, you will notice the method for allowing your phone to download apps from other sources is not the same as it was in previous versions. Yet, it’s still pretty simple, and it’s better for your phone.
Android Oreo now has a safer way to allow sideloading. Instead of changing only one setting to allow programs from unknown sources, you have more control over which apps are allowing this option. This new way of sideloading will enable you to install new apps while keeping the rest of the system secure.
Android Oreo allows you to choose whether or not apps like Chrome, Amazon, or Reddit have permission to download apps. If you usually use Chrome to download your APK files, you can select the downloading option for that program only. Your other apps that are capable of downloading programs won’t be able to.
With other Android operating systems, it’s possible for a program to self-install through a text message or other means, and you may not even notice until it is too late. How? When you allowed “Enable Unknown Sources” in the older versions, any and all applications could access and download files to your phone. That’s a little scary.
If you don’t have Oreo yet, you need to make sure to disable “Allow Unknown Sources” whenever you finish downloading the APK files. Switching it back will make it more difficult for malicious data to get through.
Even with all the changes, there are still bad guys out there who want access to your device. So be very careful. Make sure the apps you are loading come from trusted sources like APKMirror and APKPure.
How to sideload in Oreo
1. First, swipe down from the top to expand the menu. Find the Settings gear in the top right corner and tap on it.
2. Open “Apps & Notifications” and tap on the Advanced menu.
3. Choose Special App Access.
4. Select “Install Unknown Apps.”
5. You will see a list of apps that are capable of downloading APK files. Notice that by default none of these apps are allowed to download.
6. Click on the one you want to use to download apps, and then toggle the switch on.
7. When you go back to the previous menu, the word “yes” now appears under Chrome. This indicates that the program is allowed to download apps from places other than the Google Play Store.
Sideloading apps gives you more freedom to use your phone as you want, but be cautious. No matter where you download a file from, whether it’s from the Google Play Store or sideloaded from another source, it can be dangerous. But if you stay alert for malicious programs, you can enjoy lots of new options on your Android device.