What is an APK File? Just like Windows PC systems use a .exe file for installing software, Android does the same. An APK file is the file format used for installing software (usually games or apps) on the Android operating system.
Why would I want to install an APK File? Searching for and downloading APK files allows you to access apps that have leaked ahead of their official release. (You can also download apps which have been banned, though we would not recommend this.) APK files of new Android builds are often leaked ahead of time, giving you early access to all the exciting new features that otherwise wouldn’t be available to you. A recent example of this would be with the early Android L build which found its way online despite that it’s yet to be officially released.
APK files can be installed on Android powered devices just like installing software on PC. When a user downloads and installs an Android application from either an official source (such as Google Play), or from some other (unofficial) site, they are installing an APK file on their device. A user or developer can also install an APK file directly to a device (that is, not via download from the network) from a desktop computer, using a communication program such as adb. By default, the ability to install from unofficial sites or directly from a desktop is disabled for security reasons on most Android devices. You can enable it by changing the setting “Unknown sources” in the Settings menu.
You must find an APK file that you want. Search online for an APK file and download it to an easy-to-find location on your computer (like your desktop). Before you can install it on your phone you will need to make sure that third-party apps are allowed on your device. Go to Menu > Settings > Security > and check “Unknown Sources” to allow your phone to install apps from sources other than the Google Play Store. If you like, you can also download an app like ES File Explorer so you can easily find files on your Android device.
Once you have downloaded the file on your computer, connect your device to it. At this point, you may be asked if you simply want to charge your phone or connect it as a “media device.” Choose “media device”. Then, simply find your phone’s folder on your computer (it will be in “My Computer” or “Computer” on Windows machines) and copy the APK file into a folder of your choice in your Android smartphone.