For the not-so-seasoned developer or even a complete non-developer, the world of APKs seems very hard to grasp.
What is an APK file? How does one open an APK file from their Android device? Are these files dangerous? Are they editable? So many questions around three little letters.
Don’t worry. We’re going to break down exactly what APK files are, how to open them, and how to edit them. Let’s dive in some definitions, shall we?
What Is an APK File?
APK is an abbreviation for Android Package. An APK file is an Android Package file with the primary purpose of distributing applications through Google’s Android operating system.
APK files are often compressed and saved in ZIP format. One can easily download a compressed APK file through the Google Play store as well as other websites.
There is quite a bit of data and content one can find in an APK file, including:
- A META-INF folder
- A res folder
Essentially, the APK file contains the application one wishes to install along with any necessary data required to run and uninstall that application.
Are APK Files Dangerous?
When downloading an APK from the Google Play store, you can expect to receive a file that is safe. Google makes it a priority to verify and scan applications and APK files that are added to the Play store, though some virus-containing APKs may slip through the cracks. For the most part, though, you can expect whatever you download from the Play store to be safe.
When it comes to other websites, though, it’s a different story. If you download and install an APK file from an untrusted source, you may be installing malware onto your Android device.
Luckily, there are a few tools you can use to make sure that an APK file is safe. VirusTotal, Hash Droid, and NViso ApkScan are all stellar applications one can use to scan any APK file for malware and viruses before installing it.
How Can I Open an APK File?
Opening a compressed APK file is a fairly simple process.
APK files can be executed through more than just the Android operating system, but it’s easiest to access an APK file through an Android operating system.
To open an APK file via an Android device or operating system, simply download that APK file and execute it. When downloading APKs through the Google Play store, you simply need to select “Install” on that app’s download page, wait for it to download, then click on the app in Google Play when it is finished.
When opening APK files from other sources, you may have to do some additional work. Here’s how to do it step by step:
- Download the APK. You may get a notification from Chrome verifying that you want to download a potentially dangerous application that has not been approved by Google. Go ahead and download it anyway.
- When the APK has finished downloading onto your device, test it with one of the virus scanning apps we mentioned previously.
- Once everything’s in the clear, it’s time to open the APK. After your first attempt to execute the app, you may find that Google is blocking you. Some Android devices will even experience a block at the download stage. Which brings us to our next step…
- Go to your device’s Settings. Select “Security” (or “Application” if you’re using an older version of Android) and mark the checkbox next to “Unknown sources.” This will allow you to bypass Google’s download restriction on foreign APK files.
- Execute the APK file. Once opened, you will be asked to install the application that the APK holds. Select “OK.”
- Enjoy your new app!
There are a few ways to open APK files on non-Android devices as well.
For Windows devices, one can use a program like Android Studio or BlueStacks to open an APK file and install it onto the device.
For Mac devices, the Chrome extension ARC Welder is a great tool that is mostly used to test Android apps for use on Google’s Chrome OS for their Chromebook line of devices. Still, this extension can be used via a Chrome browser on a Mac device.
It’s worth noting that as it stands, it is not possible to execute and open an APK file on iOS devices such as the iPhone. This is because the components of an APK file are fundamentally different from an iOS file, and compatibility is impossible.
How Can I Edit an APK File?
You can absolutely edit an APK file, but it is not recommended to do so if you don’t know anything about application development.
If you want to learn how to edit APK files and code apps, there are many resources out there for self-education. The Android Developers community is a great place to start.
When it comes to the basics of editing an APK, start by downloading an app editor such as APK Editor Pro. There are other editors available online, but this app seems to be the most popular.
With an app like APK Editor Pro, you do various things with an APK file:
- Edit any file or part or any APK file or app
- Remove any APK permissions
- Manage automation and autorun of an application
- Hack the data of an application
- Hack the resources of a game
- Modify the value of a game or app
- Change any file with an easy to use patch
- Select any APK file to edit within the app
- Select an APK file from the app directly
- Utilize the Autorun Manager feature
- Use the APK Permission Remover feature
- Utilize built-in hack app data options
- Modify any file of the app directly from the APK Editor app
How was our guide to APK files and how to open them? Tell us what you think in the comments below!
Photo source: Pixabay