APK File How Do You Open It and What is It?

APK File Explained

If you are an android user and download apps directly from Google Play Store, you may or may not have come across the word APK yet. If you ever downloaded an application from a third party, you must have come upon the APK file.

So, ever wondered:

  • What is an APK File?
  • Why is APK important?
  • What does an APK file contain?
  • How is APK different from the app?
  • How to download an APK file?
  • What are the benefits of APK?
  • Is there any risk in using the APK file?

Worry not because, in this article, we will answer all these questions one by one.

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What Is APK?

Usually, an Android operating system uses an extension to distribute and install any application on the mobile. This extension is known as APK File, and it works like a .exe file that a Windows operating system uses to install the software. These files are always stored in ZIP format and can be downloaded from Google Play Store or any other website.

Most of the time, people use Google Play Store to install any application. Therefore, the APK file for that app goes unchecked because while installing the app, Play Store does not show the name APK.

Why Is APK File Important?

APK file has different values for developers and app users. Google Play Store requires an APK file to distribute apps. Therefore, before uploading, developers must assemble their apps into APK files. It contains all documentation and codes of software.

On the other hand, Android users nowadays are always wanting more to customize the appearance of their cellular screens or have a good time playing games. For this, they have many options to download apps and games. The obvious one is the Google Play Store, where they can install apps of their interest.

But there is one problem with using Play Store; it takes time and patience to approach an updated version of the existing app or install a new one. The reason is that developers want to test the app’s performance before releasing it on Google Play Store.

Another difficulty Android users face is that sometimes a specific app is banned within a particular country. So they are unable to download the app directly from Google Play Store.

The solution to both the problems is one, an APK file, which gives people early access to any updated or newly launched or restricted app via a third party. All they have to do is download an APK file of the desired app from any website that provides APK files.

What Does APK File Contain?

From assets to coding, an APK file possesses all the necessary software data. Some important contents are given below:

  • META-INF: The folder that has metadata and manifest files for java.
  • res: This folder contains resources like colors, images, dimensions or style that were not present in resources.arsc.
  • assets: Where random files like music, video or fonts are present.
  • lib: This folder consists of several directories to run on the specific architecture of a device.
  • AndroidManifest.xml: An XML file includes name, activity, permissions, version etc.
  • resources.arsc: Resources like Booleans, strings, colours etc.

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How Is APK Different from The App?

Although APK and App have the same functions, both are different. An App, a short form of application, works as a small software that runs on any device. In contrast, APK is just a file that works only on Android. The app is installed directly from Google Play Store, and APK is first downloaded from a third party and then installed in the App form.

 How to Download an APK File?

When you download any application from Play Store, it is installed automatically on your device. At the same time, this is not the case with APK files that are downloaded like any other file from outside the Play Store. Only after that an APK file can be installed manually as an App.

To download and install an APK file, you will have to follow these steps:

  1. Go to the “Security” in “Settings” on your android phone and allow installing applications from other sources.
  2. Download the desired APK file from any website.
  3. In the “Download” folder, press on the APK file icon.
  4. The app will start to install on your cellular phone.

 What Are the Benefits of APK?

There are many benefits of APK files. The supreme ones are as follows:

  • APK files are the only source to install your preferred apps when Google Store is not working.
  • APK files allow you to avail latest updates to any application before they go live on Play Store.
  • APK files can also rescue you from unwanted updates consistently on Android. Similarly, if you think that any update has a drastic effect on your favourite application or game, you can easily install the old version in the form of APK files.
  • You can download and install leaked applications before their release on Google Play Store.
  • If Google restricts any App in your region, you can have it via APK files.
  • APK file is the only way to enjoy those applications that are not available on the Play Store

Is There Any Risk in Using The APK File?

There are also many risk factors associated with using APK files. Some are mentioned below:

  • Sometimes pirated apps are available in the form of APK files. Installing these apps may land you in any legal problems.
  • Sometimes APK files may contain malicious software. Such software can potentially infect your device by compromising its security, leading to personal information leakage.
  • Hackers can quickly grab you by your neck using APK files.

Therefore, always download APK files from a trusted source to avoid above mentioned risks.


Open APK File Windows

The easiest way to open an APK file on Windows is by using an Android emulator (our favourite is BlueStacks). In that program, click on the My Apps tab to select Install apk. APK files are stored in a compressed. ZIP format can be decompressed with any Zip decompression tool. Therefore, if you would like to investigate the contents of an APK file, rename the extension to “.zip” and open the file, or you can open the file directly with a Zip program.


 An APK file is a way to distribute and install apps in the Android operating system. These files can give you access to leaked, new or restricted applications. But there is a risk of landing in legal troubles, information leakage and attacks by hackers.

What does APK stand for?

Android application PacKage

Is APK safe?

APK files install software on your computer, so they can be a serious security risk. A person with malicious intentions could modify the APK before you install it, and then use it as a Trojan horse to install and run malware.

How do I install an APK file?

If you can't open the file through your phone's web browser, open the File Explorer app on your phone, locate the Download folder, and select the APK file. Allow the app any permissions it asks for. Then, tap the Install button.

What is the difference between APK and app?

App stands for application. There are many variations of application such as Android Application, Windows Phone Application, iOS Application, Web Application, Windows PC Application, Mac Application, etc. But APK stands for Android Application package.

Is APK a software?

In the Android world, an APK file is analogous to other software packages such as .APPX or .DEB in Windows or a Debian package in Debian-based OSes. APKs are created by compiling a program for Android using software such as Android Studio or Visual Studio and then packaging all the parts together.

Dave P
Dave P
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