If you’ve just come home with your first Android phone, the first thing that you’re going to want to do is to get some apps. If you’re coming from iOS, then you may be accustomed to only having one way to install apps (the App Store)… or maybe this is your first smartphone. Don’t worry Android is all about options, so installing apps can be done in several different ways.For our friends who are new to Android, let’s take a look at the different ways to install apps on Google’s platform. Oh, and, don’t worry, you’re not alone, we get this question all the time.Google Play Store (formerly known as the Android Market)You probably didn’t have to read this post to figure this one out. Simply open the Google Play Store (the artist formerly known as the Android Market), search for something you want, and hit install. You’ll need to provide a Google ID and payment method, but you probably already did that when you first powered-on your handset.You’ll most often install apps from the Play Store on your phone. But you can also buy and install apps from the web version. Just navigate there in any web browser, sign in with your (same) Google account, and install. Before you know it they’ll be on your phone or tablet, so long as you have a connection to the web. All of the above assumes you’re connected to the internet either over WiFi or your carrier’s 3G/4G connection, the apps are actually being downloaded from another source.Amazon AppstoreIf you don’t have a lot of experience with Android, you may not know that Amazon also offers a marketplace for Android apps. The Amazon Appstore is the same storefront that you find on the Kindle Fire. Sometimes you’ll find cheaper prices than the Market, and Amazon also offers a free app (which normally costs money) every day.To install the Amazon Appstore, first navigate to your device’s “Settings” menu (menu>Settings from the homescreen). Then select the “Applications” menu, and check the box for “Unknown Sources.” The tells the device that you want to be able to approve apps from third-party sources. You (probably) trust Amazon, so this is OK to do.Finally, navigate to the Amazon Appstore on your device, and install.Standalone apps (on device)Unlike iOS, Android also lets you install apps from various places around the web (just like Windows does). This allows developers to easily release beta versions of apps, or to distribute apps that aren’t allowed in the Play Store/Android Market (like Grooveshark).You’ll notice that Android apps are commonly referred to as APKs. As you probably guessed, .apk is the extension that denotes that a file is an Android Package or, to put it more simply, an Android app. Even the apps that are preinstalled on your phone and the ones you install from the Play Store are APKs.To install an APK, you’ll first need to enable applications from unknown sources (see instructions above under Amazon Appstore). After that, simply track down the APK that you’re looking for, download, and you should automatically be prompted to install it.If you miss out on the installation prompt, simply install a file browser. ES File Explorer and Astro File Manager are quality free options, and Root Explorer is a more advanced alternative for rooted users.Standalone apps (via PC)There may be times when you’ll have an APK on your PC and you want to install it on your Android device. The easiest option would be to simply transfer it to your device and follow the above instructions for on-device installations.If you want to amp up your geek factor, though, you can use ADB to install your APKs. ADB is the software that developers use to create Android apps, but it also opens the door to PC sideloading. If you’re asking yourself, “What is ADB?” you can stop right now, we’ve got a full explanation up.The first step is to read our tutorial on ADB. Once you have ADB set up and working on your PC, make sure you have applications from unknown sources checked (again, it’s above under Amazon) and connect your device via USB. Open a command line in your ADB directory and type “adb install [location of APK file on your PC]” (without quotes, of course). When you use your phone, the app should be waiting for you.And that’s it! Now you’re fully fluent in installing Android apps, no matter the app, the device, or the circumstances.
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