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How to sideload apps on android

How to sideload apps on android

The official and recommended way to install apps on your Android device is still via the Google Play Store. But there will be times when you might need to install an app from outside of the Play Store. Perhaps you want a version of an app that is no longer available via the Play Store. Maybe you’re using an alternative Android app market, or maybe you’re using one of Amazon’s Fire devices and you want to access some apps available only by installing them. Luckily enough, sideloading an app is pretty easy to do. So let’s get on with it.

Sideloading” is just Android geekspeak for installing an app outside of the Play Store. When you sideload, you bypass the usual app store and install an app via an APK file, where APK stands for Android Package Kit. APK is the standard file format used by Android for installing apps. Before you start sideloading, though, we need to warn you first.

Sideloading has potential security issues

Google asks users to always install from the Play Store if possible because they can at least ensure that the Google Play Protect security system is at work in that process, filtering malicious apps before they are even installed. When installing from other sources, you will get no such protection.

Hence, you have to be really sure that the APK you are sideloading comes from a legit and non-malicious source. Sad to say, sideloading is one of the more common ways that hackers spread malware. One of the better sources of APKs is APK Mirror.

Allowing installations from “Unknown sources”

If you want to sideload apps, you will have to allow installations from “unknown sources” since by default, Android won’t allow installations that are not from the Play Store. Here’s how to do just that.

  1. Enter the Settings menu. Tap on Security.
  2. Look for the Unknown Sources toggle. Toggle on – or tap to put a check mark – on Unknown Sources to allow sideload installations.

How to sideload apps on android

Sideloading an app by manually installing the APK file

  1. Download the APK file you want to sideload via a reputable source.
  2. Open your file manager app. The downloaded APK file usually goes to the Downloads folder.
  3. Tap on the APK to start the installation.
  4. Review the permissions, then go on with the installation.

Sideloading an app via ADB

We already explained what the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) is and how to install it in a recent tutorial. Make sure you read up on that before trying to do this.

There will be times when you have to do the sideload process with your device connected to the PC via a USB cable. Here’s how you do that.

  1. Download the APK file. For convenience, place the file in the folder where ADB is installed.
  2. Connect your device to the PC using a USB data cable.
  3. Open an ADB command line on the ADB folder. (Shift + Right click > Open command window)
  4. Type adb install sideloadapp.apk , where “sideloadapp.apk” should be replaced with the full name of the APK file.
  5. Press enter to execute the installation.

That should do it. As a word of warning again, it would be prudent to un-toggle “Unknown Sources” from the Security menu again to make sure you keep your device secure from malicious installations.

With the vast amount of options available on the Play Store, one would think that it’s the one-stop-shop for every app you could need. But that’s simply not the case as other developers have created and released apps that are not readily available on the Play Store.

For one reason or another, these apps are not on the Play Store, but also don’t fall under the category of “malicious”. For instance, Lawnchair launcher is available to download, but if you want faster updates, then you would need to download and install the APK from a site like APKMirror.

What does it mean to “sideload” an app?

How to sideload apps on android

If you aren’t aware of what it means to “sideload” an app on your Android phone or tablet, it essentially means you are installing a file on your device that’s not from the Play Store. As we mentioned previously, this gives you access to applications that are more “diamonds in the rough”, or stand out from the crowd and the developer doesn’t want to go through the rigamarole of Google’s guidelines.

When downloading an app not found in the Play Store, you will actually be downloading an “APK”. This is the package format provided by Android for users to install applications and other media onto your Android device.

One primary example as to why you would want to sideload an app is for a device that does not have access to the Play Store. The Huawei P40, which has been stuck in the middle of the US and China trade war and does not have access to Google Play Services. So, you would need to download and sideload these APK files in order to get your favorite apps on this device.

How to sideload apps

In recent years, Google has implemented new ways to protect you from being able to download malicious apps. You are required to manually grant access to various applications (i.e. your browser) to download files, including APK’s. So before you can actually install the file, you will need to grant access to whatever app is being used to download the file.

There are two methods for doing so, and we’ll start off with the “manual” option:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down and locate the Apps & notifications section.
  3. Tap Advanced at the bottom of the page.
  4. Tap Special app access.
  5. Near the bottom of the list, select Install unknown apps.
  6. Find and select the app you wish to give access to.
  7. Toggle the option for Allow from this source to the On position.

When you find an APK file that you wish to download, and the app has not been granted access, you will be notified.

  1. Locate the file you want to download.
  2. Tap Change permissions in the dialog box.
  3. When prompted to allow the app to access your files, tap Allow.
  4. Tap Download.
  5. Once downloaded, click on the file to open it.
  6. Tap Settings from the pop-up.
  7. Toggle the option for Allow from this source to the On position.
  8. Go back to the previous screen.
  9. Tap Install.

Where do you find apps, not in the Play Store?

How to sideload apps on android

There are “storefronts” available which have a slew of apps available for sideloading, opening up the possibilities of your Android device even more. And the best part is that not all of these other apps require you to be rooted, which is another ballgame entirely.

The most important about any of this is to make sure that you download these apps from “trusted” sources. We’ve listed a few great options.

APKMirror

This is run and managed by our colleagues over at Android Police, and there is a slew of options available. Just about every app you can think of will be found here, and this has been my go-to option for downloading the beta versions of Lawnchair Launcher.

XDA Labs

Managed by our colleagues at XDA Developers, XDA Labs is another repository of trusted applications that will only improve your experience. This is completely free to use, and if you donate money to an application, 100% of those funds make their way to the developer.

F-Droid

Our final pick is a popular service, which provides a catalog of “free and open-source applications”. If you use the F-Droid app, this will also act similarly to the Play Store, providing you notifications when an app that you have installed has been updated. This is a fan-favorite as it has been floating around for years.

Some of our favorites

How to sideload apps on android

As we’ve mentioned, there are a slew of apps that are only available through these other sources, and won’t be found on the Play Store. We’ve compiled just a short-list of our favorite options available from these third-party sources.

Lawnchair Launcher

This is based on the original AOSP Launcher, also known as Launcher3. But the benefit here is that you get all the benefits of the Pixel Launcher, along with customization options. You can use icon packs, adjust your home screen size, and customize just about everything you would want to with your launcher.

Google Camera

Google’s Camera application is only available on Pixel devices. However, folks in the Android community have been porting the app, making it possible to download and use the app on non-Pixel handsets. The reason for this is that Google’s Camera app can provide a vastly-superior HDR experience, especially for lower-end devices. But these also work with flagship handsets like the Galaxy S20 line.

YouTube Vanced

This is the YouTube app that you want, especially if you aren’t a subscriber to YouTube Red. Vanced blocks all YouTube ads, gives you the ability to play videos in the background, and so much more. This is actively developed, so there are new features being added and bug fixes being issued on a regular basis. If you watch a boatload of YouTube videos, then you need to try out YouTube Vanced.

K-9 Mail

Let’s be real, there are no “great” email apps, regardless of whether you use iOS or Android. There are some that come close, and that’s where K-9 Mail comes into play. After a couple of years where the app seemed abandoned, the developers have picked things right back up with a fresh-looking website, and the promise for the continued development of the app.

Bromite

While mobile browsers are getting more powerful, with the ability to install extensions and add-ons, there are other downsides. But if you want a browser that has the speed of Chrome without all the extra fluff and is privacy-focused, the Bromite is the way to go. Bromite sports a minimal interface, and built-in ad blocking.

How To Sideload Apps On Android Devices

Before we move forward and learn how to “sideload” apps on Android devices we should first understand what “sideloading” actually means.

What Is Sideloading?

The official and recommended way to install applications (aka apps or apk’s) on your Android device is still by using the Google Play Store. However, there will be times when you want to install an app from outside of the Play Store. Maybe you want a version of an app that is no longer available via the Play Store. Perhaps you’re installing an app directly from a website or using an alternative Android app market (i.e. Simply Kodi, Aptoide, APK Mirror, etc). Luckily, this can easily be done by a process refereed to as “sideloading”. “Sideloading” is “geekspeak” terminology for installing non-Play Store apps on any Android phone, tablet, or other device by bypassing the usual app store and installing an app via an APK file, where APK stands for Android Package Kit (APK is the standard file format used by Android for installing apps).

Be Careful! (Warning)

Sideloading apps has potential security issues. That’s why Google asks users to always install from the Play Store if possible. Installing through the Play Store allows Google to work behind the scenes with the Google Play Protect security system to filter out malicious apps that can harm your device and steal your data before they are installed. However, the choice is yours. Google gives you the freedom to install whatever apps you want. Just remember, when you bypass the security system and install from other sources, you will get no such protection. So make sure that you’re only sideloading apps from trusted sources.

How To Sideload Apps On Android Devices Versions 8.0 and Above

First, go into settings (drag your finger down from the top of the screen on tablets or phones and tap the gear icon to access the Settings menu.)

How to sideload apps on android

Next, tap Apps & Notifications, then expand the Advanced dropdown menu.

How to sideload apps on androidHow to sideload apps on android

Choose Special App Access, then “Install Unknown Apps” from the very bottom of this menu.

How to sideload apps on androidHow to sideload apps on android

Select the app you’d like to allow sideloading from, then toggle the switch to enable the feature.

How to sideload apps on androidHow to sideload apps on android

How To Sideload Apps On Android Devices Versions 7.0 and Below

First, go into settings (drag your finger down from the top of the screen on tablets or phones and tap the gear icon to access the Settings menu.)

How to sideload apps on android

Next, scroll down and tap on Security.

How to sideload apps on android

Finally, scroll down this page until you see “Unknown Sources.” Then toggle the switch on.

Alright guys, listen up. Android is a system built around apps. We use apps to do everything on our phones and we usually have a few that we use every single day. For me, that’s Pocket Pony and Bratz Fashion Match. Sometimes your favorite app will get pulled from the Play store or sometimes it will be listed as being incompatible with your device. Whatever the reason, there is a simple work around. Every Android device will have the ability to install apps without using the Play store. I’ll show you how. Take my hand, bro.

Android apps come in the form of a file called an APK. Let’s say you want to get an APK of the Google Play store. If you have an Android TV device, it will have a very limited version of the Play store if it even has one at all. So what you’ll want to do is find an APK file of the Play store, transfer it to your android TV storage, then install the app. Let’s take that step by step to see how it’s all done.

Download the APK

There are many different places whereВ you can find APK files. Most of the time you’ll find them on the XDA forums. We also have an app called XDA Labs that hosts a library of APK files. Zomg it’s great.

Transfer the APK to your device

If you didn’t download the APK directly to your device you’ll need to transfer it. This can be done by using a USBВ drive, connecting your phone to your computer, Bluetooth or a cloud service. The method that I prefer is have a folder on my dropbox where I store all of my APKs. Then as soon as I log in to dropbox from a new Android device I’ll have access to all of my APKs.

Install the APK

By default Android will block the installation of non-Play store APKs. They do this to prevent any malicious apps from being installed under your nose. So first we will tell android to allow apps from unknown sources. To do this, go to Settings > Security > Unknown sources

Now we will use your file explorer to navigate to the saved APK and launch it.

Select Install

If you are overwriting an existing app like I am here, hit Install again.

If the app is compatible with your device it will install just fine from this point on.

And that is how you sideload an app onto your android device. The best part about this is your device does not need to be root or modified in any way. Everything will work right out of the box.

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How to sideload apps on android

To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories.

If you’ve been watching the news cycle around app bans and the policies around what is and isn’t allowed in the app stores run by Apple and Google, you might have also seen references to “sideloading” apps—which essentially means installing apps that aren’t available in the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.

This is actually relatively easy to do, at least on Android. It can give you access to apps you wouldn’t otherwise be able to run (usually because they violate one or more app store policies), and it can also enable you to try out early versions of apps before they’re released to the masses.

Before you rush to start downloading and installing things, it’s important you know that sideloading apps removes the security protections that Google and Apple give you: Their app stores are carefully patrolled for malware, stalkerware, and anything that might try to steal your data or break your device.

By installing unauthorized apps from alternative sources, you’re sidestepping these safeguards. Be very, very careful about which apps you choose to sideload—check and double-check the background of these apps and the backgrounds of the developers that make them. In general, you should install apps outside of your phone’s app store only if you have a very good reason to. And if you just read that thinking “Oh, I’ll be fine, I don’t need to do that extra research,” you probably won’t, and you really really shouldn’t install it.

Sideloading apps on Android isn’t particularly difficult, as long as you’re cautious about what you install and take into account the security considerations we’ve mentioned above. That said, it can be a useful way of expanding what your phone is capable of. It also lets you play around with apps outside of the Google Play Store.

To get started, point your mobile browser toward a trusted site that stores APKs (Android Packages). APKMirror is one of the best and most reliable, for example. When you’ve found the APK that you want to install on your phone, tap the Download APK button and then OK to confirm you understand what Android tells you—that unauthorized apps can harm your device. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, make sure you know what you’re doing.

If you need an Android app, APKMirror can help.

David Nield via APKMirror

Tap Open, and if this is the first APK you’ve installed, you’ll be asked to go to Settings to confirm that you want to install “unknown apps” from this source. (In this case, the source is your Android web browser.) You’ll have to do this only once for your web browser, and you can then tap Install to run the APK and install the app.

If you need to access the install-unknown-apps setting again, you can find it by going to Settings then selecting Apps and notifications, the app in question (usually your web browser), Advanced, and Install unknown apps. You can install apps from file-syncing services such as Dropbox, as long as you enable this feature for the relevant app.

That’s really all there is to it—the process might vary slightly if you’re using something other than the stock version of Android 10, which is the latest version at the time of writing. In Android 11, the process is changing slightly, so the downloaded app will have to restart once you’ve given it permission to run.

The biggest challenge with sideloading apps on Android is not how to do it, but making sure everything you install is safe: Android apps are given more rein on your device than they are on iOS, so the potential for an untrustworthy app to do damage or steal data is significantly higher—as long as you stick to known portals like APKMirror and known apps that are well established and widely used, you can minimize your risk.

You’ll need to confirm that you want to install apps from outside the Play Store.

David Nield via Chrome

For the more adventurous, rooting your Android phone is an option: This basically means hacking your Android phone to take off all its limits and restrictions, but it’s not for the faint of heart. While it lets you give apps more control over your system—Titanium Backup, an excellent whole-device backup tool, is a good example—it’s difficult to do, it’s likely to break some of your favorite apps, and it leaves your phone more vulnerable from a security perspective. Unless you have a very good reason, we’d recommend using the APK method rather than rooting to install non–Play Store apps. Besides, the procedure to root you phone varies among devices and even among carriers sometimes, depending on whether your phone is locked. It used to be a popular pastime, but it’s much less common now and in many cases more difficult, and that’s by design.

Learn how to sideload apps directly onto your phone.

Oct 5, 2020, 6:36 am*

Ever wanted to download an app not available in the app store? Or has one of your favorite apps suddenly been removed? (cough TikTok cough) You may still be able to use it thanks to a process known as sideloading.

What is sideloading?

Sideloading is a method that allows Android users to install apps manually without having to go through the Google Play Store.

While there are numerous points that need to be taken into consideration before doing so, sideloading can give users access to apps that they might not otherwise being able to on their device.

But are there any tradeoffs when sideloading an app? Is it safe to do? Here’s what you need to know.

Security considerations of sideloading

Apps that are available in the Google Play Store have gone through a vetting process in order to ensure their safety. And even though dangerous apps containing malware and other issues still make their way into the app store from time to time, it is generally considered the safest way to download an app.

But since there is often no similar vetting process for apps outside of the app store, sideloading is generally considered more risky.

If you choose to sideload an app, however, it’s important to determine that you have obtained the app from a trusted source. Make sure the app is coming from the app’s official website or a vetted and verified third-party source.

How to sideload apps

When you are looking to sideload an app, you must first locate the app’s APK file. An APK, or Android Package Kit, is the file format used for mobile apps on the Android operating system.

Android phones by default block users from installing APK files for safety reasons, but users can disable this feature by following a few simple steps.

Although many Android systems differ, the steps should generally be the same across devices. So first, go to your phone’s Settings.

From there, scroll down and select Security. Next, locate the option for Unknown sources and enable the feature.

Your phone will display a quick warning informing you of the potential security issues.

“Your phone and personal data are more vulnerable to attacks by apps from unknown sources,” the warning states. “You agree that you are solely responsible for any damage to your phone or loss of data that may result from using these apps.”

Select OK to proceed.

Now that your phone is ready for sideloading, locate your APK file. Installing the file should be straight forward. Once clicked, the APK file will begin loading much like any app would from the app store.

After being asked to review the permissions that the app requires, simply click Install.

Further considerations

One of the downsides to obtaining an app this way is that unlike those in Google Play Store, apps downloaded through sideloading will not receive automatic updates.

Updates are vital for keeping your device safe since they often contain patches for security flaws. Make sure to keep up to date with new versions of an app so you can install them as soon as possible.

A much easier way to accomplish this is to simply download the app “APKUpdater.” This tool will automatically inform of when your sideloaded apps are ready to be updated.

Sideloading iPhone

While sideloading apps is technically possible on an iPhone, the process is much more complex and requires certain technical knowledge. Some methods require users to rely on jailbreaking—essentially hacking their own phones’ operating system—while others require users to register for a special developer’s account with Apple that allows them to run unvetted programs on their phone through the use of special software.

In essence, while you can get away without on an Android, Apple does it’s best to keep your phone tethered to its app store.

Your Android TV such as Mi Box or Nvidia Shield TV comes with the Google Play Store. And it’s pretty good. However, it only features apps that are optimized for the TV interface. But there are times when you have to sideload apps on your Android TV. For example, the other day, I wanted to install my a VPN app on my Shield TV box, so that I can watch American Netflix, but I couldn’t find it on the Android TV store.

Turns out there are multiple ways to sideload apps on your Android TV, depending on whether you have Pendrive, Smartphone, WiFi or none of them. Each method has its pros and cons. Let’s check them out. Shall we?

Most of the sideloaded apps won’t be visible in your native launcher, so make sure you use Sideload launcher or any Android TV launcher that supports sideloaded apps.

Sideload Apps on Android TV

Method 1. Using a flash drive

The handiest way to sideload apps on your streaming device can be via Flash drives. Most popular Android TV box such as Mi box and Nvidia Shield TV comes with a USB port. So, if you have a spare flash drive nearby, you can copy APKs from your computer, or if you are on Android, first you need to download any backup app like Apk Extractor from Google play store to extract apk of the installed app. Once you send the file to the USB stick, remove the flash drive from the smartphone/computer and plug it in the Android TV box. Once in, use any Android TV file manager such as File Commander to navigate to the USB drive and install it.

Since Amazon firestick is also based on Android OS, this trick work there, however, you have to buy a three-way OTG splitter to access the flash drive, which is a hassle.

  • Easy to use
  • Needs no WiFi
  • I f there is no flash drive nearby, this won’t work.

Method 2. Using Google drive

The previous method was bit inconvenient as it requires both USB OTG adapter (since most phones have Type C port) as well as a flash drive. In case you don’t have access to those, you can also use cloud-based services like Google Drive to transfer APKs from your Phone or Computer to your Android-based streaming device like Firestick or Android TV

Start by downloading the apk from APKMirror on your phone or PC. The reason we recommend APKMirror is because it’s from the reputable ‘Android Police’ and free of any malware. Though it’s filled with a lot of Google Ads, and finding the right download is still a bit confusing.

Once you download the apk, upload it to your Google Drive account and head to your streaming device. Open File Commander or any other file explorer with cloud support and login with the same Google account which has the Apks. D ownload and install them.

  • No hardware needed
  • Although this may sound easy, it’s just too much work

Method 3. Transfer via WiFi

Since Android TV or even the Fire Stick are already always connected to the Internet, it makes sense to use wifi to transfer Apks and install them. So, to get this work, first, you need to install WiFi file transfer app on your Android TV. The app has 50MB file limit on the free version which shouldn’t be the problem since most apks are smaller than that, however, you can remove by upgrading to the paid app that costs $0.99.

Use the previous two methods to install WiFi File transfer on your device. Once done, open the app, it will show you an IP address. You can type this IP address on your computer or Android phone’s browser and then just drag and drop the apk files here. Now you can transfer files from your phone and install them. Of course, you can also transfer large files like movies using this app as well.

If you are on fire tv stick, you can use the Easy fire tools app to transfer apps installed on the phone or APKs directly to your fire tv stick. It works on the same principle as the previous one, however, you don’t have to install the companion app on your TV as you did with WiFi File transfer.

  • Easy to use
  • No hardware needed
  • Efficient for long term
  • Needs WiFi
  • Cog up the memory of both your phone and your streaming

Method 4. Use Android TV Browser

You might already know, you can access the web on Android TV using web browsers like Puffin TV. So, why not use it to download apps on your Android TV? Simply, open Puffin TV and head to ApkMirror, perform a quick search for the apps you want to download and you will be able to download the apk after battling intrusive ads on the website.

  • Easy to use
  • Save a lot of time
  • Intrusive Ads

Method 5. Use Aptoide TV

Even after the presence of Play Store on the Android tv and Amazon Store on the Fire TV stick, the app available for these devices is quite and since most apps are not fully optimized. Yet, these unoptimized apps work fine (like WiFi file transfer we use in method #3) on Android TV. Enter Aptoide TV, an alternative Play Store for Android tv as well as the Firestick.

To access unoptimized Android apps on your Android TV, you can use Aptoide TV store, Yes this store is capable enough to be called as a competitor to play store on the tv ecosystem. Use any of the methods discussed to install Aptoide TV apk and open it. Once in, now you can download and install apps which are natively not available on the play store but good enough to be on android tv. The only downside to this store is that it has all sorts of apps without any guideline.

  • Auto-update
  • Efficient for long term
  • Some apps are pirated

If we miss out any better way to sideload apps on Android TV, share it with us in the comments below.

How to sideload apps on android

How to sideload apps on android
The Google Play Store is, no doubt, the best place to get apps. It has a massive selection from the most popular developers and its security features are top notch. You simply can’t get the same experience anywhere. However, that isn’t to say that Google Play has every app or game available for download. We’re sure you know about Fortnite and its issues with staying legitimate by now. There are other surprisingly decent sideloaded apps that aren’t allowed in Google Play for one reason or another. Here are the best Android apps you may want to sideload.

Since you are venturing outside of Google Play, we recommend checking out our how to install third party apps without the Google Play Store guide linked here. We’d also like to give an honorable mention to the Amazon App Store since you do have to sideload it and it also has a bunch of apps and games.

  1. APKMirror
  2. Cerberus
  3. F-Droid
  4. Fortnite
  5. Google Camera
  1. Humble Bundle
  2. Tachiyomi
  3. Bonus: ViPER4Android (root only)
  4. Bonus: Magisk Manager (root only)

Read more:

APKMirror

Price: Free

APKMirror is technically a website and not an app. However, it has a bunch of apps that you can sideload. The biggest and most useful function for APKMirror is trying out new or beta versions of apps you can regularly get on Google Play before they actually get there or finding an old version of an app or game that worked better than its new version. It’s a highly reliable website for APKs and you shouldn’t ever worry about things like malware or anything like that. We’ve used this site as a source for years without any trouble. You can find all kinds of neat stuff there to sideload if you look around.

How to sideload apps on android

Cerberus

Price: Free / $5-$43 per year

Cerberus used to be one of the best Find My Phone apps on the Play Store. However, Google adjusted some of its rules regarding certain permissions and Cerberus was summarily booted. The app still exists on its official website, though, and it’s still a reasonably good option for its category. It can snap photos of people who try to get into your phone, show you your phone’s location, text you its location, and do all sorts of other functions. There is a subscription cost required ranging from $5 per year (for one device) up to $43 per year (for up to ten devices).

F-Droid

Price: Free

F-Droid is an excellent app to sideload. It’s another app store similar to Google Play. However, this one only has FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) apps. This is a great spot to get apps for those concerned about privacy and security because every app has to post its open source code somewhere on the Internet. You won’t find a ton of popular apps here, but you can find a lot of simple tools that would replace less trustworthy ones on the Google Play Store. Plus, F-Droid itself is relatively easy to use and it looks good.

How to sideload apps on android

Fortnite

Price: Free to play

Fortnite’s on-again-off-again relationship with the Google Play Store is very public and very messy. For the time being, though, you can only get Fortnite from Epic Games’ official website. The game is a battle royale style game where you and 99 other players duke it out to see who is left standing. The game map shrinks over time and there are various resources on the map you can collect and craft to give yourself an advantage. It’s one of the most popular games in the world and you can’t get it in the Play Store at this time. If you need more help, we have a guide on how to install Fortnite here. One day, when Epic Games releases its own game store, we’ll likely replace Fortnite with it.

Google Camera ports

Price: Free

Google Camera exists in two places at once. There is the Google Play Store version (link) which is only just okay. Then you have the actually good Google Camera which you have to sideload. The Google Camera ports include the outstanding post processing of Pixel devices along with Night Sight, Astro Mode, and other features you don’t find the Play Store version. XDA-Developers has a repository for most devices where a Google Cam port exists. There is a decent number of devices but it’s worth noting that not all devices can use it and not all devices have the same features. It’s very much a constant work in progress so hit the link to see if your devices is compatible.

How to sideload apps on android

Also try these:

Humble Bundle

Price: Free with in-app purchases

If you have ever sideloaded an app on your Android TV, you might have noticed that it doesn’t show up on the home screen and neither the app drawer. One way to access such sideloaded apps is via a third-party launcher like Sideload Launcher, HALauncher, etc. But, you cannot set a third-party launcher as the default launcher. Hence, you would always have to launch the third-party launcher first and then the sideloaded app. Quite tedious!

So, a better way to launch sideloaded apps is to place shortcuts on the default Android TV launcher and use the apps seamlessly. Here’s how you do it.

How to Open Sideload Apps From The Default Android TV Launcher

In order to place shortcuts of sideloaded apps on the default Android TV launcher, we would need a third-party app called TV App Repo. It’s an open-source app and lets you place shortcuts of sideloaded apps on the default Android TV launcher. Internally, it just installs a dummy app on your Android TV that points to the sideloaded app.

Unfortunately, TV App Repo is not available on the Google Play Store. Hence, you will have to download the apk from APKMirror on your smartphone and then sideload it to the Android TV.

Step 1: Download the ‘TV App Repo’ on Your Android

In order to download the TV App Repo, head over to the APKMirror link above. On the download page, scroll a bit downwards and click on the “Download APK” button.

How to sideload apps on android

Step 2: Send Apk File From Your Phone to Android TV

Once you have the apk downloaded on your Android smartphone, we need to send it to your Android TV. You can do that by using a third-party app like WiFi File Explorer or Send Files to TV. For this demonstration, I am using the Send Files to TV app but you can always read our detailed article on how to sideload apps to your Android TV for a better understanding.

Download and install the Send Files to TV app both on the Android TV and smartphone.

How to sideload apps on android

On Android TV, open the app and click on the “Receive” button to accept file transfer.

How to sideload apps on android

Now, head over to your Android smartphone. Download and install the “Send Files to TV” app.

How to sideload apps on android

On your Android smartphone, tap on the “Send” button and select the “news.androidtv.tvapprepo” apk file. Next, you will be prompted by the TV name and IP Address. Tap on it and the file will be shared instantly.

Both the Android TV and Android smartphone need to be on the same Wi-Fi network.

How to sideload apps on android

Step 3: Install the TV App Repo on Your Android TV

Once you have the app on your Android TV, use a third-party file manager like the FX File Explorer to access and install the apk file. Within FX File Explorer, navigate to the “Download” folder and click on the “news.androidtv.tvapprepo” apk file.

How to sideload apps on android

When you click on the apk file, Android TV will ask you to provide app installation permission to the FK File Explorer. To do that, click on Settings.

How to sideload apps on android

On the “Install unknown apps” page, turn on the toggle beside “FX” to allow it to install apps.

How to sideload apps on android

Now, head back to the “TV App Repo apk” file and click on it again. Next, click on the Install button to install the app.

How to sideload apps on android

Once the app is installed, click on Done. Head back to the App Drawer and open the “TV App Repo” app.

How to sideload apps on android

Step 4: Create Shortcut using the TV App Repo

The TV App Repo app will automatically detect the sideloaded apps that don’t show up in the default Android TV launcher. In order to create a shortcut for them, navigate to the “Leanback Shortcuts” tab.

How to sideload apps on android

On the Leanback shortcuts tab, you will have the unsupported sideloaded apps. You can select and click on an app whose shortcut you would like to place on the AndroidTV launcher. In my case, I want to create a shortcut for the “AZ Screen Recorder” app. Hence, I’ll click on the AZ Screen Recorder icon.

How to sideload apps on android

When you click on the AZ Screen Recorder option, you will get a confirmation dialogue. Just click on the “Create Shortcut” button.

How to sideload apps on android

TV App Repo will install a dummy package on your Android TV that will redirect to the sideloaded app. Similar to the File Manager, Android TV will ask you to provide installation permission to the TV App Repo app.

How to sideload apps on android

Under the Install unknown apps menu, turn on the toggle beside the “Tv App Repo” app to provide it installation permission.

How to sideload apps on android

Now, head back to install the AZ Screen Recorder app.

How to sideload apps on android

Once you have the app installed, you will see an AZ Screen Recorder entry in the Default Android TV App Drawer. When you click on it, it’ll launch the AZ Screen Recorder app directly.

How to sideload apps on android

You can also create a favorite entry for the app and access it from the home screen. TV App Repo also lets you place website links on the Android TV home screen. You can directly click on the links and launch the website within a third-party web browser.

The TV App Repo also provides you options to customize the name, tag of the shortcut. There a bunch of customizations to explore within the app. TV App Repo is one of my favorite go-to apps for Android TV. For more issues or queries regarding Android TV, let me know in the comments below.