All you need to know about APK: The ultimate Guide

by November 27, 2019 0 comments

If you are an Android mobile user, you must have heard of the acronym, APK. Ever wondered what it is? In this article, we will try to answer most of the questions you might have regarding the file extension. 

What is an APK? 

The full form of APK is Android Package Kit. While many might believe that is a file extension, it is much more complicated than that. It is basically a package of various files which contains the computer program itself and various other files including the metadata. So basically, it is classified as an Archive rather than a file extension. Without going into too much detail, here are the file formats that usually make up an APK: 

  • META-INF directory: 
  • CERT.SF 
  • The Certificate of the application 
  • lib:  
  • armeabi 
  • armeabi-v7a 
  • arm64-v8a 
  • X86 
  • x86_64 
  • Mips 
  • res 
  • Assets 
  • AndroidManifest.xml 
  • Classes.dex 
  • Resources.arsc 

How is APK created? 

APK is created using Android Studio. It is the official Integrated Development Environment for Android. IDE is a software which developers use to develope computer programs. Android Studio is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. 

What is APK used for? 

APK is the format which is used by Android devices to distribute and install software, or as we know them more colloquially, apps. While all the apps are available for download from Playstore, the APK versions can also be downloaded from various websites directly. This is very beneficial if you want to downgrade an app to an older version by uninstalling the latest version and then installing the older, downloaded version. This is usually done if an important app is causing performance issues. 

The other use of APK is to get your hands on an app that is not yet available. Some apps on the Playstore have regional restrictions and might not be available in your country. You can download an APK of the file and install it without any hassle. 

So is there any way to download an APK directly? 

Yes, APKs can be downloaded directly from the internet from various different websites: 

  • APK Mirror 
  • APK Store 
  • APKPure 
  • Aptoide 
  • Yalp Store 

How can one install an APK? 

By default, due to security reasons, Android devices do not allow you to install APKs. But is easy to do it. First, you need to go to your Settings, tap on Security and then “Allow installation from unknown sources.” This is for the older versions.

For the newer android versions, it is a bit tricky. You will have to go to your settings and select “Apps and Notifications”, go to advanced and select “Special app access”. Once in the new menu, select the “Install from unknown sources option”. A new menu will open, where you will have to allow your browser and your File Manager to install the APKs. 

But is installing APK safe? 

It is just as risky as installing any other file from the internet. If you are not careful, any APK you may install might contain a virus, trojan or other Malware. 

How can it be done safely? 

One of the most important ways to do it is to install it from a reliable website. All the websites mentioned above are reliable. Some people might be able to game the website, so always go through the review and comments section of the APK you want to download. But if you are still not sure, there are online websites like VirusTotal and NViso APKScan where you can upload your APK and the website will scan it for you. While VirusTotal has a limit of 128 mb, NViso APKScan has no limit. 

For what kind of apps is APK used? 

Every Android app you see is an APK. Every software on your android is APK. We see new kinds of apps, from new games to fitness trackers to web based apps to social media apps releasing on Android. All those are APK. And the reason why it is so versatile is that it is not exactly a file extension, but a collection of files, as mentioned in the first answer. 

What Operating Systems can run APK? 

Like the full form of APK suggests, it can only be run on Android. But there are ways to run APKs on your PCs as well. For macOS and Windows, you have emulators like BluestacksBluestacks isn’t available for Linux. Instead, you will have to use Anbox. IF you are looking to run Android on iOS, well you are out of luck. 

How to convert an APK file? 

Well, you can’t. APK is meant for just the Android OS, so it can’t be converted to other formats as exe. The only way to run it on other platforms is to use an emulator. 

You can, however, convert it to Blackberry’s BAR file. Many tools are available online that do that. 


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