Friday, 5 December 2014

How to download an APK file from the Play Store

Say you've just paid for a game on Google Play, something large and juicy, and then you realize you can't install it because you don't have enough room on your phone. What do you do if you don't have time to go through your phone and delete some files to clear up some space? Or maybe your tablet is not supported for a particular title or there are location restrictions in place. Did you know you can simply download an APK file directly from Google Play to your computer and install the APK later, once you've had a chance to free up some space? Here's how to download APKs from Google Play.

androidpit google play store 3 You don't have to install apps from the Play Store - you can grab the APK and install it later! / © ANDROIDPIT

Now, there's a couple of ways you can download an APK directly from Google Play. You can use a Chrome extension or a website that will generate a specific download link for you - we've covered both methods for you below. You can even download paid APKs if you have already purchased them on the Play Store, but take a look at the excerpt from Google Play's Terms & Conditions at the very bottom of this tutorial to see their take on the subject. 

androidpit apk file teaser Installing APK files also gives you access to apps that aren't available in the Play Store. / © ANDROIDPIT

How to download an APK from Google Play with a browser extension

If you're likely to download lots of APKs, then getting yourself a Chrome extension or Firefox add-on is probably a good idea. An extension is simply an additional tool for your browser that makes certain actions a whole lot easier: from ad blocking to link sharing to APK downloading.

1. For this tutorial we're going to be using CodeKiem's APK Downloader extension version 2, which supports both Chrome and Firefox browsers.

APKDownloaderExtensionChrome This one of many APK Downloader extensions available for Chrome. © ANDROIDPIT/CodeKiem

2. Once you've added the extension to your browser you're good to go, but you need to do a few things first.

3. You need to add your email address, which will be stored in the Chrome extension associated with your Google Play account, and also your device ID for later requests.

APKDownloaderEmailDeviceID The Chrome extension needs your email address and Device ID to function. © ANDROIDPIT/CodeKiem

4. To get your device ID, hit the dialer on your phone and type in:


5. Then just look for the bit that says ''aid'' (Android ID): enter this in the Chrome extension. You should see the GTalk Service Monitor information (screenshots below).

AndroidPIT GTalk Service Monitor AID (second line on the right) is your Android ID number (it'll be longer, I blocked out some digits). © ANDROIDPIT

6. If you don't get the above screens, you can install a simple app from the Play Store like Evozi's Device ID to get, you guessed it, your device ID, amongst other useful bits of information. The app doesn't require internet access, but if you're the suspicious type, turn off your internet connection, use it to get your ID, clear the app cache through Settings > Apps and then turn the internet back on.

AndroidPIT Security Unknown Sources LG G3 You'll need to enable ''Unknown Sources'' in order to install an APK. © ANDROIDPIT

7. On your phone, you're also going to need ''Unknown Sources'' enabled in the Security settings.

8. You're also going to need a USB cable. When you connect your phone to your PC, you should get the necessary drivers installed automatically and your phone should show up like a USB storage device. If tyhis doesn't happen, hit Google for your particular device's USB drivers.

9. Then copy the APK you downloaded to your PC onto your phone (called ''sideloading''). I'd recommend an obvious location like the Downloads folder.

10. Go to your Downloads app on your phone and tap the APK you just transferred over. Don't forget to disable ''Unknown Sources'' when you're done.

AndroidPIT YouTube APK remove Uninstalled APKs can be managed in your favorite File Explorer. Deleting them is as simple as with ''normal'' apps. © ANDROIDPIT

How to download an APK from Google Play using a website

If you're a much more casual APK downloader then a Chrome extension is probably not really necessary. Instead, you can just visit a dedicated site for generating APK download links whenever you need to.

1. Go to the Play Store and find the app you want to download.

2. Copy the app's package ID.

3. Go to a site like Evozi's APK Downloader (Evozi also has a Chrome/Firefox extension) and paste the app package name (or the whole Google Play URL if you're lazy) in the box at the top of the page.

EvoziAPKDownloaderWebsite You can simply generate unique download links every time you want to grab an APK.  © Evozi

4. Hit the blue button to generate the download link and save it to your computer.

5. Feel free to confirm the version number with that on Google Play and do an MD5 file check if you're at all paranoid about what you're getting.

6. Run a virus scan on the file too if that makes you feel better.

7. Sideload the APK to your phone/tablet and install it as above.

Google's Terms & Conditions

You should note though that using these methods to access apps in the Google Play Store may technically be against the Play Store's terms of service (we're not entirely sure), so use this process at your own risk.

"3.3 You agree not to access (or attempt to access) Google Play by any means other than through the interface that is provided by Google, unless you have been specifically allowed to do so in a separate agreement with Google. You specifically agree not to access (or attempt to access) Google Play through any automated means (including use of scripts, crawlers, or similar technologies) and shall ensure that you comply with the instructions set out in any robots.txt file present on the Google Play website." - Google Play Terms of Service

Have you tried using this method? Please tell us what you think by commenting below.