As longtime Android enthusiasts, sometimes it’s easy to forget that at one point, we knew next to nothing about the OS. And while we’re sure by now, most of you are experts, you no doubt have many friends and family who are either making the transition to Android from another OS, or simply aren’t as tech savvy as you.
For those, we’ve created a basic “Android how-to” guide. Here we will explain how to accomplish some of Android’s more remedial tasks (for the noobies), in an effort to save your sanity, and help everyone enjoy Android to its fullest. Now, let’s take a look at sideloading Android applications onto your smartphone.
What is sideloading?
“Sideloading” is just another word for installing an Android application onto your phone, from somewhere other than the Google Play Store. While this is generally a bad idea for beginners (you never know what kind of viruses you can catch on the internet), there are times when you need to test an app from a trusted developer, or even install a leaked version of something official (like a new Google Play Store, Google Maps, etc.).
Take heed. This should never be used as a way to circumvent paying for games or applications on Google Play. With Android being the most targeted mobile OS in regard to viruses and malware, stick to the Play Store if possible. This is actually one of the main reasons why Android doesn’t allow sideloading by default (but this can be turned off).
Enabling app sideloading, is easy. Simply jump into your phone’s Settings application, scroll down and select the “Security” option. Scroll down again and press “Unknown sources.” As the description states, this will allow the installation of apps from unknown sources — i.e., somewhere other than the Google Play Store.
Now that we’ve done that, we’re ready to rock and roll. Occasionally, you’ll find apps we post here on Phandroid for upcoming app releases followed by a download link. Whether your viewing in our app, or in your Android web browser, click the link and the app will begin downloading.
In most cases, the app will be placed in a “downloads” folder, stored inside your phone. You can easily access all downloads by jumping into the Downloads application located in your app drawer (where all your other apps are). From there, simply click the application that was downloaded (apps always have and end with “.apk” in their file name.
Depending on your Android device, you’ll may see a popup asking if you want to verify with Google (to ensure there’s no malware), or install regularly. Always select the first option and proceed with the installation instructions. You’ll then be greeted with the apps permissions, and the option to install. Click install and if successful, you can then either click done to go about whatever it was you were doing, or open the app directly from here.
To be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to jump back into your settings, and turn off/uncheck the “Unknown sources” option. Sometimes malicious apps (even those downloaded from the Play Store) can use this to do all sorts of nasty stuff.
And that’s all there is to it. You are now a sideloading app master. As always, the best place for new Android users is in our Android Forums. There you can chat it up with other Android users, and find guides, apps, how-to’s and chat it up with other users sharing the same phone as you.