The Google Play Store is without a doubt the best place to get apps. It has a huge selection of the most popular developers and its security features are top-notch. You just can’t have the same experience anywhere. However, this doesn’t mean that Google Play has every app or game available for download. We’re sure you know Fortnite and its legitimacy issues. There are other surprisingly decent sideloaded apps that are not allowed in Google Play for one reason or another. Here are ten of the best Android apps you might want to sideload.
Since you’re moving outside of Google Play, we recommend reading our information on installing third-party apps without the Google Play Store guide linked here. We’d also like to give an honorable mention to the Amazon App Store as you have to download it from the site and it also contains a number of apps and games.
APKMirror is technically a website, not an app. However, there are a number of apps that you can download from the site. The biggest and most useful feature for APKMirror is to try out new or beta versions of apps that you can regularly download from Google Play before they actually get there, or to find an old version of an app or game that works better than the new version. It’s a very reliable website for APKs and you should never worry about things like malware or anything like that. We have used this site as a resource for years without any problems. If you look around you will find all kinds of nice stuff there to load off the site.
Price: Free / $ 5- $ 43 per year
Cerberus used to be one of the best Find My Phone apps on the Play Store. However, Google adjusted some of its rules regarding certain permissions, and Cerberus was launched to summarize. However, the app still exists on their official website and is still a pretty good option for its category. It can take photos of people trying to break into your phone, show you the location of your phone, send you a text via SMS, and do all sorts of other functions. Subscription costs between $ 5 per year (for one device) and $ 43 per year (for up to ten devices) are required.
F-Droid is an excellent sideloading app. It’s another app store that is similar to Google Play. However, this only has FOSS apps (Free and Open Source Software). This is a great place to get apps for those who are concerned about privacy and security as every app needs to publish its open source code somewhere on the internet. You won’t find many popular apps here, but the Google Play Store has plenty of simple tools that would replace less trustworthy ones. Plus, F-Droid itself is relatively easy to use and looks great.
Price: Play for free
Fortnite’s relationship with the Google Play Store is very public and very chaotic. However, for now, you can only download Fortnite from the Epic Games official website. The game is a battle royale style game where you and 99 other players challenge it to see who is left. The game map gets smaller over time, and there are various resources on the map that you can collect and craft to give yourself an advantage. It’s one of the most popular games in the world and it’s not currently available on the Play Store. If you need more help, here is a guide on how to install Fortnite. One day, when Epic Games releases its own game store, we will likely replace Fortnite with this one.
Google camera ports
Google Camera exists in two places at the same time. There is the Google Play Store version (link) which is just fine. Then you have the actually good Google camera that you have to side-load. The Google Camera ports include great post-processing from Pixel devices, plus night vision, astro mode, and other features that you won’t find in the Play Store version. XDA-Developers has a repository for most devices that have a Google Cam port. There are a decent number of devices out there, but it’s worth noting that not all devices can use it, and not all devices have the same functionality. It’s a constant job so click the link to see if your devices are compatible.
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Price: Free with in-app purchases
Humble Bundle is a game sales service and one of the few really good ones outside of the Google Play Store. The service usually bundles a number of games that you can buy well below their Google Play Store value. There is also a charity that you can throw a few dollars on to help other people. Humble Bundle also makes e-books and audio stuff (usually soundtracks). The app is pretty simple. They use it to browse the bundles and download previously purchased content. Humble Bundle is cross-platform too, so you can buy PC games too.
We’re entering a cloudy area with Popcorn Time, but it’s a very popular app that a lot of people use. It is a free movie streaming service. You open the app, select a movie and watch it. In addition to being available for Android, it is available for most platforms including Linux and Android TV. The app also supports downloads for watching offline, dubbed, and subtitled movies, and more. It’s not the most ethical way to get hold of this content, but it exists and people like it.
Tachiyomi is one of Android’s best manga readers, but also one of the most complicated. It has a huge collection of manga including some NSFW stuff. It also includes extensions that are similar to Kodi’s. Unfortunately, these extensions are APKs that you install and that is why Tachiyomi is not on the Play Store. Fortunately, the official website has the app, and it’s relatively easy to install and use. It’s a little more boring than any manga reader you can find on Google Play, but it has so much more content.
ViPER4Android (root only)
ViPER4Android is an audio engine and equalizer app and frankly the best. It requires root access as it installs a literal audio driver on your phone and that gives it its legendary control. You can create multiple sound profiles for all of your headphones or speakers. The developers are working on a rootless version of the app, but it is not yet available. Therefore, you need root to get the most out of this app.
YouTube Vanced is another gritty option for sideloaded apps. It’s a modified version of YouTube that allows you to watch videos with no ads and includes the YouTube Premium features like background playback. Otherwise it works and behaves like YouTube. This, of course, takes money out of the pockets of the creators and that is not a good thing. However, you cannot change human nature, and this is an exercise in honesty. It’s a great way to use YouTube for people who otherwise wouldn’t watch YouTube with its ads and wouldn’t pay for YouTube Premium.
Bonus: Magisk Manager (root only)
Magisk Manager is one of the most powerful sideloaded apps out there. Unfortunately, it’s for rooted devices as it absolutely cannot work on non-root devices. Basically, you can use the app to install modules that improve, expand or otherwise change the functionality of your device. It’s definitely a power user tool, so we wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. That’s why it’s down here in the bonus section. Either way, this is a great tool for root users as long as they don’t worry about the learning curve and have backups ready in case something happens.
Porn apps and games
Price: Free / Varies
Google Play has a broad, absolute ban on nudity on the Play Store. There are no adult apps or games with things like pornography. You’ll need to download this from the site if you want this type of content on your device. Most people only use their browser in incognito mode and it works just fine most of the time. However, if you actually want an app on your phone, you need to download it from the site.
Thank you for reading! Try these out too:
If we missed any great side-loading apps, let us know in the comments below. You can also click here to see our latest Android app and game lists.