Today we are going to talk about installing APK files on Android. The APK or Android Application Package is one of the most popular package formats available for Android, and with them you can install applications in a way similar to how you do it, for example, with the .exe files in Windows.
One of the main advantages of Android compared to other mobile operating systems is freedom. You can, for example, install applications from any site beyond the official Google store. But this freedom sometimes plays against the user, turning this advantage into an open door for the installation of malicious software.
Therefore for security it is not advisable to install applications from pages that are not the official Android store. However, services like Amazon have their own apps that have been placed in the official Google store, and they offer you the possibility of downloading their full version from their official website, so that sometimes it can be useful.
Risks of unknown origins
Installing a .apk format application on Android is like installing an .exe application on Windows. That means that the dangers that you expose yourself to do so are the same, such as the possibility of infecting with some virus, malware or adding other programs to your mobile in the process that you are not warned about.
As it happens in any other operating system, if I put a virus in an application I will do it by downloading this app and modifying its code, but I will not leave clues in its name or icon. Therefore, by default you will have no way to differentiate an infected apk from one that is not, and hence the importance of being very careful with where you download it from.
There are two ways to install applications on Android. On the one hand you have official application stores such as Google, Amazon and some other companies. In them the applications are subject to different types of security control. But you also have the possibility to download APKs from other sites, such as any web page, forums or P2P networks. Here there are usually no security checks, and everything is in the hands of the good faith of who uploads the apps.
Imagine for example that in Google Play you have a game that you like, but it costs too much money. You go to a forum where in theory is the APK file of that game, and in which they promise you that you can download it to install for free. How can you know that this APK with the name and icon of the game is not really anything else that can damage your mobile?
Obviously there are pages and pages, and not everything that you go down beyond the official stores is dangerous. For example, there are repositories like APK Mirror where the original APKs of the applications that you have available on the official websites are uploaded. But beyond one or two specific options it is advisable not to download anything from sites you do not know.
How to install an APK on Android
Android Settings And Security
In most cases Android has disabled for example the option to install applications from unknown sources, which are all those that are not installed through Google Play. To do this go to the Android Settings, and once in them * click on the option * Security ***.
Enable Unknown Origins
Once inside, click on the switch that you have next to the option Unknown sources to activate it. Google will warn you that you will be exposed to attacks that can be carried out as we have explained to you through these applications, and by clicking on OK in this warning, you will have the * option enabled.
Notice Download Apk
Now proceed to download the APK application you want. Try to make it from 100% reliable stores. When you are going to do it, your mobile browser may warn you that these apps may damage your device. The notice will be sent to you with any .apk file that you download. Click on OK to proceed with the download.
Click on the Apk
When you have downloaded the application you will have a notification, and you will only have to open the notification panel and click on the name of the downloaded apk. If you have put the apk in a microSD card or specific mobile phone folder, you will have to use a file browser to access this address and then click on it. Exactly the same as in Windows.
If you have enabled the unknown origins, the information table will appear with all the elements of your mobile to which the app will access, and you will only have to click on Install to proceed to install it. If you do not have it enabled, it will tell you that you can not do it, and in some cases it will take you directly to the security settings to enable it.
Keep in mind that this information panel shows which elements the application accesses as originally conceived. But if I take an apk and change its code to get a virus or spy, this will not be reflected in the information panel. Therefore, it all depends on whether you downloaded the app from a reliable site.