In this article we will see what is a .apk file and the best programs that open it. APK files are related to Google Android operating system.
The APK file format
The APK file format is developed by Google and it is categorized as an executable file. It is in the zip format also.
It has grown in popularity over time since these files permit the easy download of certain mobile applications that cannot be downloaded to Android devices via the conventional Google Play Store.
In this write-up, we will learn more about this unique apk file suffix, features, characteristics and related software.
Google Operating System Android
Android is a mobile operating system for Google and was created to work on Android devices. When you buy a new Android mobile device, it usually comes pre-installed with many apps.
If you need an app that does not come pre-installed, you can visit Google Play to download such an app in APK format. Once you download an app from Google Play, such an app gets installed automatically on your Android device with the .apk extension.
If you download apps from a source different from Google Play, you will have to follow a manual installation procedure before the app from an outside source can be available for use on your mobile device.
In normal circumstances, the end user will never see the files since they are handled by Android during the app installation process; the process can occur via any app distribution platform like Google Play.
However, you can find many websites out there offering a direct APK file download for the benefit of android users that may want to install the apps following the manual procedure.
If you prefer the manual installation procedure, you will have to trust their party sources or platforms to get the app installed.
It is, however, important to be watchful of the external source from which such an app is downloaded since some of the eternal sources cannot be trusted; some of them may introduce malware or spyware to the mobile device.
Do not download the app from an external source except you can trust the source. They have the same capability of distributing malware just like .exe files and Windows.
How to install an APK on the android device
Follow the instructions provided below to install it. Before you start the installation or downloading process, make sure the website or external source can be trusted.
Android permits the free installation of third-party apps, which is one of the major features that differentiate the Android operating system from iOS.
However, apps downloaded from a third party source will not be installed automatically unlike apps downloaded directly from Google Play.
The third party apps are saved on your mobile device as .APK and await your manual installation before it can be available for use.
Allowing the installation
Your Android mobile device is automatically set not to permit the download of third-party apps; you are, therefore, required to permit the download before you can proceed. Follow the steps below to permit the downloading and installation:
- Go to the Settings screen on your phone
- Click on Security and this will lead you to Android Security Settings
- Click on the checkbox opposite "Unknown Sources" to allow installation of apps from unknown sources.
- You will then be shown a dialog box that warns you about the risk of installing apps from unknown sources.
- Click on Ok to start the downloading.
This setting allows you to download any app from an external source without ever visiting Google Play for the same purpose.
How to install
You can either save it as an attachment to an email or download it from the web. If you got the APK as an email attachment, just click on Install to get it installed to your mobile device.
When you find it from the web, check the Download folder on your mobile device for the APK file and then click on it to install.
If your device is set not to permit installation from an external source, you may be asked to permit the third party installation before you proceed with the installation. After the installation has been completed, you will be shown a confirmation message to tell you that the installation is completed.
After this, you can open the it on your mobile device.
Contents of APK File
APK stands for Android Packages and it contains every essential file for an android program. Check below for a list of folders and archives you can find in this format:
- META-INF/: It contains a list of resources in the archive, including the signature and the manifest.
- Lib/: It contains native libraries running on given device architectures
- Res/: It contains resources not added to resource.arsc, like images
- AndroidManifest.xml: It describes the name, contents, and version.
- Classes.dex: It is a compilation of Java classes that should be run on the device .DEX.
- Resources.arsc: It is the compilation of resources required by the app (ARSC), as strings.
Viewing the contents
APK files saved on or mobile device in .Zip format. You can use any zip de-compressor tool to open them.
It is possible to rename it as .zip if you want to check the content you can also use a zip application's open dialog box to access the content.
How to open an APK file
You can do it as described below. Choose the operating system and select one of the programs mentioned to open the apk file.
Opening In Android
If you want to open it on your Android device, you can use Google Android program.
How to open it in Windows
To open it on a Windows operating system use any of the programs highlighted below:
- Noxplayer Nox
- WinRAR 5
- Corel WinZip 23
- File Viewer Plus
- Google Android SDK
Programs that open it In Mac
It can also be opened on a Mac operating system using any of the programs highlighted below:
- Google Android SDK
- Nox Player Nox
- Apple Archive Utility
- Smith Micro DtuffIt Deluxe 16
Opening In Linux
You can equally access them on the Linux operating system. The two programs you can use or this purpose are:
- Google Android SDK.