What Is An Android Package File?

For distributing application files from Google on the Android operating system, it is necessary to make use of an APK or Android Package kit extension. It is similar to the way that .exe files in a Windows operating system are used for installing software. APK files will contain any data of the app that is to be installed, right from its resources and manifest, as well as the compiled application code of the app.

Normally, most users who download apps from Play Store (https://play.google.com/) miss out on the word APK. This is not a problem, because the process of installing the app in the background is taken care of by Android. However, if you know how apps can be installed manually, there are many more sites that will offer the download of APK files.

Care needs to be taken, however, when you download such files, because, just as in the case of .exe files, you may inadvertently be distributing malware.

The need to use APK files

Android default applications can have settings that are restrictive, and if you want to do more with your device, one solution would be to install APK files. You can use APK to download apps and games from legit websites, even if they are n the beta stage or are not available in your location.

Uses of APK files:

You can download and use leaked apps through the use of APK files.

APK files also allow you to download Google’s latest updates by overriding carriers.

There are times when it is not possible for you to download some apps, because Google has placed some restrictions on the region you are in. APK files solve this problem.

Play Store is not used by all app developers. Downloading of these apps is possible if you use APK files.

APK files content

Al the files necessary for running an Android program are contained in APK files.

These are the prominent folders that you will find in an APK file:

In META_INF you will find the manifest with its signature and the archive will have its resource file.

lib/ will give you the native library that a device architecture needs for its running. 

res/ gives you the resource that has not been compiled into resources.arsc. 

Images are an example.

assets/ make for the raw files that app developers use for bundling resources.

AndroisManifest.xml will give you details of the content version, and the APK files name.

Classes.dex tells you about the Java classes that need to be run on the device.

Resources.arsc indicates the compiled resources that the app uses, like strings.

How do you view an APK file’s contents?

All APK files are compressed into the ZIP format, and you will need a ZIP decompression tool to open them. So if you want to view the contents of an APK file you need to change the name of its extension to .zip and then open it. However, a zip application or open dialogue box can be used to open it directly.

Finding APK files

You can locate the APK files on your phone that runs on Android to find a user-installed app’s APK, if you go to /data/app/directory, but if your app is preinstalled you will have to go /system/app folder and for access to them you will need ES File Explorer.

Installing an APK file 

Follow these steps:

1) Setting up your device

Go to settings on your Android device and find the security option. The option of unknown sources needs to be selected so that apps that are not from Play Store can be installed. You can avoid installing harmful APK files if you check the box in the option for verifying apps. This will ensure that only healthy files are accessed for downloading.

2) Finding and downloading an APK file

Be sure of the APK file that you  want to download. If you choose a file that is reliable, then your Android device should have no hassle in opening it.

Open your browser and go the APK files that needs to be downloaded. Clicking on the file will start the download. Once the download has been completed, it is necessary to click on open to start the installation. 

3) Using a computer to download and install APK files

Your computer must allow for access of third-party apps that come from other sources. You can do this, by going to settings and going to the security option. Clicking on unknown sources will let you know whether your computer is allowed to access unknown apps.   

First find the APK file that you want to download and install from your computer to a Android device.  Get it into your system by clicking on the download option. See that you save it in an appropriate location.   

Once the file is downloaded, connect your computer to the Android device. You will be given options that will allow you to connect the device as a media device.

Now go the folder where you have saved the download of the APK file, copy it, and then go to an appropriate location on your device where the copy can be installed. Now the device can be disconnected, the downloaded field can be found and installed so that your app is now on your Android device. 

Opening an APK file

These files are mainly opened on Android devices, but you can also use any other Operating System to open them. 

(i) Opening APK files on Android

If you want to open an APK file on your Android device, after you have downloaded it, you can open it when you are asked to do so. However, some files may have a safety block if they are not installed through Play Store and will therefore not be installed right away. You need to change a few settings so that you can bypass this restriction on downloading and installing files from unknown sources. 

The way to open an APK file will depend on your version of Android.

You need to go to the apps and notification option in your settings. Select the advanced option that will allow you to click on special app access. 

Select the unknown apps option

Go to apps and notifications in your settings

Then go to security options

You may need a specific app permission for installing unofficial APK files. Or you may find the option that enables the installation of unknown apps or those from unknown sources. If you are still unable to open it, you may need a file manager.

(ii) Opening APK files on Windows

You will need  a cross-platform product such as Bluestacks or Android Studio to open an APK file on Windows. You will find in these, the tabs that give you options for installing APK on Windows. 

(iii) Opening APK files on a Mac

Google has some extensions that allows Android applications to be tested for Chrome OS as well as other OS. You can use these extensions on both your Mac and Windows PC.

(iii) Opening of APK files on an iPhone

APK files have a completely different manner of working when compared  to how apps work in iOS gadgets. And both of these will not work with the other. So your iOS gadget, whether it is an iPhone or an iPad, your APK files will not open on it.  

Extracting APK files

You need a file extractor tool so that you can open an APK file in Windows, macOS, or any other desktop OS.  

APK files are archives of files and folders that will need programs like Winzip or WinRAR, or other programs for unzipping them. But if you extract the file, you will see the file component, but will not be able to run it on the computer. You will then need an Android emulator that is essential for running Android OS on a computer.

Conversion of APK files

APK files are meant to be used only on Android devices and that is the reason why you cannot directly change it into a file that other frameworks can execute. There are file conversion services available, but they are of no use when it comes to APK files. An APK file cannot be converted into an EXE or IPA file that is used for Windows and iOS respectively.

You can run these files by using Chrome extensions on both Windows and Mac OS.

If you want to run a specific app on iOS find the apps iOS option or see if you can get it in the Apple Store. Change the extension on your APK file if you need to convert it into ZIP or JAR files. This will then allow you to open the files by using WinZip, WinRAR or any other similar applications.

Use an online converter to convert APK filed to BAR, if you need to use it on a Blackberry.