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How-To | Installing Non-Market Apps
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How-To | Installing Non-Market Apps

There are a lot of Android apps out there. Just look at the Android Market. Even a company as big as Google is having a hard time keeping all of the apps organized. In addition, there are many genre’s of apps available to us as Android users. Believe it or not, there are apps out there that are not suitable for the general public for a number of reasons.

The most common assumption associated with apps not on the Android Market is that they are of an inappropriate nature. Let’s quit beating around the bush; There are people out there that develop apps for pornography, cruel or inhumane acts, racist or sterotypical behaviors and so on. Many of these apps don’t belong on the Android Market, and I don’t blame Google for keeping these apps out of the mainstream.

But before you dismiss non-market apps, understand that not all apps that don’t reside on the market are bad. There are a number of reasons why an app might not be there, and we’ll look at why. There are Android apps all over the internet, and they can be found with the extension “.apk”. Why does this matter? You can download and use these apps, and many of them work very well. Let’s look at why they might be found elsewhere.

Underdeveloped/Alpha or Beta Apps

Some Android apps that don’t make it to the market are just not finished. Maybe they have a few bugs that users don’t want to tolerate. Maybe the app is in the Beta testing phase. Whatver the reason, installing an app that is not finished is not necessarily a bad thing. Some people prefer to play a part in the test market, and thus can possibly gain access to new apps or features the have not reached the majority of Android phones. Why is this a good thing for those people? Think about it. If you wanted to get in on a new app in alpha or beta form, you can influence how the app works and what it does. Developers want their apps to be popular, and to make it happen, they have to listen to those who test their app. If you want to make you mark on a new, upcoming app, then you want to be a tester. Just imagine if you had played a part in the development of Angry Birds; You could be right there in the credits!

Underfunded/Understaffed App Projects

Ask 100 people if they would give $500 to help develop a new Android app, and 100 of them will tell you to go fill in the blank . Now, not every developer needs $500 to help develop their app; That was more of an exaggeration. But some developers do need additional money to keep the project rolling. If you ever visit a developer site that has a “donate” button, that’s what they are asking. Sometimes just donating a dollar can help, and if enough people donate a dollar, the developer will get the money they need to finish their app and get paid in the process. Keep in mind, it’s called a donation for a reason. Don’t donate your monthly salary and expect something in return. On the other hand, if you negotiate with the developer and donate enough, you could receive some of the credit when the app hits the mainstream.

Older/Discontinued Apps

Some apps no longer reside on the Android Market because the developer deemed the app irrelevant or outdated. Many times there is nothing wrong with the app, and they just decided to pack it up because they didn’t want to deal with Google anymore. (No offense Google)

Here’s an example: Back in 2003, an Android keyboard was designed to improve the speed of typing on a virtual keyboard by drawing a line over the keyboard to connect the letters that make up a word. After becoming comfortable with this process, it became amazingly fast to type on a virtual keyboard, and the app was released for the Android public. Sound familiar yet? Thinking about Swype? Wrong. It was the ShapeWriter keyboard. In June 2010, the app was pulled from the Android Market indefinetely. (coincedentally right before Swype became a big deal) The problem with this was that I became a huge fan of ShapeWriter, and I tested both ShapeWriter and Swype on the same phone. Even though Swype had become amazingly popular, I still preferred ShapeWriter. I kept using it even after it was pulled from the Market. One day, I rooted my phone and I didn’t back up my apps. ShapeWriter was gone and there was no way to get it back because it was gone from the Android Market. If you can download apps from other sources though, you could get it back, and that’s exactly what I did. Since you can find anything on the internet today, I found the app that someone had uploaded, and I got it back. I still use it to this day.

Want To Know How To Do It?

Being able to download non-market apps is actually really easy. You don’t have to root your phone, it doesn’t cost you anything extra, and it’s easy to undo should you change your mind down the road.

Here's how to install apps from other than the Android Market:

1. Press the Menu button and select Settings.

2. Select Applications.

3. Check the box that says Unknown Sources.

That’s it! By confirming this, you have now granted your phone to install non-market apps. If you don’t want your phone to install non-market apps anymore, just repeat the above steps to un-check the box. For users of AT&T, I’m sorry, this isn’t yet available on your network. Just don’t shoot the messenger.

Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions, shout out in the comments!


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