What Is the Difference Between an Apk and an App?

What Is the Difference Between an Apk and an App?

Apps have maneuvered into almost every facet of our lives in 2019. In fact, it seems our entire existence revolves around them.

Essentially, there’s an app for everything on Android and iOS devices. Whether it’s cooking, cleaning, singing, writing, photography, videography, betting, or anything else, apps seemingly have us covered.

But what about APKs? It seems like everyone – including our grandparents – knows about apps, yet APKs get no love. Even if people have actually heard of them, they mistakenly think APK files are exactly the same as apps.

Well, we’re here to clarify a few things. Namely, APK files and apps are not one and the same.

While APKs and apps share similar functionality, they have drastic differences. In our blog, we’ll examine both subjects while highlighting these many differences.

What Is an APK?

An APK is a file format specifically catered to Android devices. And it stands for Android Application Package. So, iOS users with APK aspirations will be barking up the wrong tree.

An amalgamation of small files, audios, videos, icons, source codes, amongst other file-types come together to make an APK.  

There is a singular key that’s unique to every single APK file. Meaning it can’t be used by any other APKs. Similar to the ZIP format or EXE files you see on Windows, the components of an APK file are unpacked after being downloaded onto an Android device.

What Is an App?

Of course, the word “app” is short for application.

They’re ostensibly a revamped version of what computer software used to be – programmed to help us complete an assortment of tasks efficiently. Except, unlike those programs we used to download onto our PCs at a snail’s pace, apps are made specifically for mobile devices so users can perform those aforementioned tasks conveniently and on the go.

How Are They Different?

The differences between APK files and apps are far-ranging, so we decided to make a list.


  • Mini software that can be installed on any device (i.e. Android, Windows, iOS)
  • Are installed directly onto any device
  • Installing an App from Google Play or an App Store involves a sign-up process

APK Files:

  • Installation is specific to Android devices
  • Only after being downloaded from a reliable source can APK files be installed as apps
  • Can be easily downloaded from official web pages (making the installation of an app through APK files seamless because there’s no need to sign into an app store)
  • Can’t be installed if a user fails to enable settings from unknown sources on their Android device
  • Files from untrusted websites may cause damage to Android devices and the stored data if downloaded from untrusted websites


So, the verdict is in. Despite any confusion, APK files and apps are – in fact – entirely different things.

The main difference being apps’ compatibility with any kind of mobile or tablet device, whereas APKs are proprietary files made for Android. And, while APKs can include apps, there’s so much more they bring to the table.

What is an APK? What is the difference between APK and app? From Quora
Know the Differences Between an App and Apk. (2018, August 2). From FriendFactor

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