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What is Apk



Hearing the term Apk as an android user must be so confusing if you don’t know what the term stands for, if and why it is important. Let us delve deep into an understanding of what Apk really is. 

Overview of an Apk

The term Apk stands for Android Package Kit or Android Application Package, and it is a special type of file or package format that android uses to disperse and install its apps. 

Some people would like to refer to this package as an app, but in pure terms it is quite more than an app itself. 

We earlier referred to it as a package, this is because what it contains is not just the app itself as a finished product, but it also contains the app’s codes, resources, assets, certificates and manifest file.

What this means is that everything the application itself needs in order to be downloaded, installed and updated is embedded into the apk file. 

So instead of running to Google Play Store everytime you want to update your app, you can easily enable your app to update automatically whenever an update is available.  

Since, there are much more than an app inside an apk file, an apk can then be referred as an archive file just like Zip or RAR files. 

When you download an app on google play store, what you actually download is an apk file. But google makes it easier by clearing all the background processes so it isn’t quite noticeable. 

To view the content of the apk file, open it via a file manager app or you can do this by decompiling the app by using an Apk analyzer

Importance of Apk Files

Apk files are used to install apps on android operating systems. The file contains information about the program as well as directions regarding how to install and open it on your devices either a smartphone or on a PC. 

With apk files, you do not necessarily need to visit the play store whenever you need to download a file of this sort. Since it has an open nature, apk files can also be downloaded from other platforms. Some of these sources/platforms include the following

It is however important to make sure that you trust whatever site you are using to download the apk file you want. There are various apk files out there that contain malwares that gets into your device once you download the file. 

You may unknowingly be giving access to spywares so be careful when downloading apps from unknown sites. Google has put in place measures to filter out these kinds of apps from the play store. 

Another interesting benefit about apk files is that they let you download and use leaked apps. 

Additionally, they enable you to obtain the most recent Google updates by bypassing carriers.

Sometimes, developers don’t offer tier apps to play store, hence to download and use such an app you will need to download the apk version. 

Need a free android app downloader and emulator, try ApkOnline

Apk File Format

As earlier stated, Apk files are also known as archives files just as Zip files. And they  are usually compressed in zip file formats. And as such, they can be opened using any zip file opening software.

Content of an Apk

When extracted with a zip file, an Apk file usually contains the following files and directories. Let’s take a look at these files. 

  • androidManifest.xml:This is an additional manifest file which contains the name, version, access right, and content of the Apk file. This is a very important aspect of the apk. The file basically wont run without this directory. 
  • res: This directory contains resources that are not found in the resource arsc such as images. 
  • assets: This directory contains the application assets eg videos, fonts etc. This can be retrieved by AssetManager. 
  • Lib: This directory contains codes usually written in Java. The codes are usually dependent on the platform they are written for eg armeabi-v7a, x86_64, x86 etc.
  • classes.dex: They are usually compiled in the dex file format. They can be run by Dalvik virtual machines and by Android Runtime.
  • resources.arsc:These are compiled resources used by the app such as Binary XML for example. 
  • META-INF: This directory contains the manifest file, the certificate of the application, and a list of resources. 

How to Install Apk on Android 

  • Give access to install apps from unknown sources

Before downloading an Apk file from other sources on android, you will be required to grant permission on your device to let this file be downloaded and installed on your device. 

To give access: 

  • Go to Settings
  • Click on the Security option
  • Toggle off the Unknown Source option

  • Find and download the APK using a web browser
  • After it is done downloading, open your downloads, tap on apk and “open” or “yes”. 

You should see the file being installed on your device now.