Google Play Store is undoubtedly the best app marketplace for the Android platform. However, at times, Google Play Store may just not be enough. Google Play Store comes with its own restrictions, which, at times, can be quite annoying. Sometimes you cannot get certain apps in your region, or sometimes, because of staged rollouts, you get updates much later.
Generally, this is not a big issue for most. But having an alternate source to download and install apps help. Because of Android’s huge user base, it is quite easy to get hands on the apps without much hassle. Moreover, other app marketplaces may get you premium apps for free.
Before you start, here are a couple of warnings that you should read.
1. Google Play Store is the safest app marketplace. In spite of Google’s strict policies, some malware often creeps in the marketplace and Google, being a large company, takes care of it as soon as possible. With most other marketplaces, your chances of getting malware increases. So, you need to be careful about what you install.
Once you have a new app, it is recommended you have your phone scanned using some anti-malware product. Malwarebytes is quite a reliable scanner and is available from the Play Store itself.
2. No alternate marketplace apps are available on Google Play. You need to manually download and install it. To be able to install you need to perform the following steps first:
a. Go to the Settings app.
b. Scroll down to Security.
c. Enable Unknown Sources.
Depending on your version of Android, the settings may be slightly different.
Amazon App Store
Next to Google Play Store is the Amazon App Store. It is also one of the safest app stores out there. Since Amazon has their own lineup of Android-based devices, their app store has a handsome collection of apps. The look and feel are quite similar to that of Google Play Store so you won’t have much trouble navigating it.
Amazon App Store also has a cousin store, called Amazon Underground. Amazon Underground has a ton of premium apps and games for free. This is certainly an advantage over Google Play Store.
APKMirror, as the name implies, is a mirror for APK files. From here, you can manually download and install any app. In many cases, you may not be able to access certain versions of the app or some apps at all because of regional restrictions. With APK mirror, you will have complete access to all variants of an app that was ever released. This is a great way to roll back to older versions of apps in case the newer version is giving you trouble. You can also use APKMirror to get apps that are not in your country.
The only drawback of APKMirror is that they do not have an app for it. Every time you need to get an app, you will have to use the browser to access their website, download the app and install it yourself. It’s not smooth, but it offers you the maximum flexibility.
GetJar is one of the oldest app stores to exist. Surely it has lost its former glory, but if you ever owned a device having J2ME or a Symbian device, both of which were extensively manufactured by Nokia decades back, then GetJar was the one-stop-shop for all your apps. Back then, GetJar was only a website. However, now, GetJar has its own app built upon older Android APIs.
GetJar looks outdated right from the beginning but gets the job done. It downloads and installs apps really fast. It’s a great option for older Android devices where the Play Store itself causes a lot of lag.
AppBrain is the best place to get premium apps at zero cost. AppBrain works a little differently than other app stores. The developers allow users to download their premium apps for free using AppBrain for a short period and in turn, AppBrain promotes the app. When you want to install an app from AppBrain, the store will redirect you to Google Play unless you sign up. Once you have an account, you can download directly from the AppBrain catalogue.
Aptoide is more popular amongst those who use Google Play regularly. Aptoide works in a similar way compared to AppBrain. Aptoide has more free apps than AppBrain, but the authenticity of the apps is often questionable. Most of the apps are often filled with ads. But if you search carefully, you may find hidden gems in Aptoide.
Opera Mobile Store
The Opera Mobile Store is accessed via the Opera mobile browser. There are no other means of access available for this app-store and the user experience is also not good enough, but its catalogue of apps is endless and it sees huge traffic because of the install base of Opera browser on Android.