The Google Play Store has more than a million apps on it and billions of downloads each month, but it’s not the only place to get apps. There are many alternative Android app stores out there that you can use anytime you want. We decided to take a look at what’s out there.
Updated on 6-19-2015 by Brendan Hesse: Added itch.io section and entries on the end list. Updated text and links to reflect current information.
Why use another Android app store?
There are a number of reasons that you might venture beyond Google Play. Most of the alternative Android app markets out there offer something to set themselves apart. Here’s a quick rundown of the main incentives:
- Free apps and promotions: Many app stores feature a free app of the day, a discounted premium app, or some other money-saving offer, making discovering new and useful apps simple.
- App recommendations: Similarly, these stores might offer recommended apps that don’t pop up in the Google Play top ten charts.
- Curated list: Some apps stores have a specific focus and a smaller selection of app choices that have been filtered for quality, age group, or purpose.
- Localized portal: There are app stores that specifically cater to different countries, and may offer localized apps you wouldn’t find otherwise.
If you are an Android developer, you’ll also want to consider alternative Android app stores in order to maximize your exposure and ultimately your income.
What are the risks and problems?
The big risk is malware. In our Android app security basics article, we recommended sticking to Google Play and avoiding third-party app stores. The security policy on different Android app stores will vary; some will perform similar safety checks to Google, while others won’t. If you are going to take the risk, then consider installing one of the top Android security apps first.
You will need to go into your Settings > Security menu, and tick Unknown sources to allow downloads of non-Play Store apps.
Other problems you may encounter relate to a poor user experience. There are also app stores that carry pirated versions of apps and games.
For developers, the problems are more complicated. The terms and conditions may result in enforced promotions, the developer portal might be less than transparent, and updates can take longer to push out.