What you need to know to install (and uninstall) Android applications
So you've got an Android phone or tablet. Good on ya! But now what? You've heard about the tens of thousands of applications available for Android -- many of them free.
But how do you install apps on Android?
There are a few ways to go about this. The easiest is, of course, the Android Market itself. But it's quickly finding competition in the likes of the Amazon Appstore. And there are smaller third-party app stores as well, though they haven't necessarily caught on as much as you'd think.
Join us after the break as we take a look at how to install an Android application.
The Android Market
The Android Market is the easiest way to install new Android apps. It should already be installed on your phone or tablet. If it's not, chances are you have one of those (really) cheap Android tablets, and it didn't meet Google's approval. That doesn't mean you can't install new apps, though, and we'll talk more about that in a minute.
To use the Android Market, you'll need to be signed in with a Google account. Chances are you did this when you first set up the phone. But if not, you can add a Google account to your phone (and even sign up for one at the same time) straight from your phone. Go to Settings>accounts to do so.
Once you're logged in, you'll be able to browser the Android Market, purchase apps, or download free apps. The Android Market also is where you'll update apps you've already loaded. Purchasing apps is done a couple of ways. One is through Google checkout. You give it a credit card number, and it manages the transactions for you. Another way is through carrier billing. If you're on Sprint, AT&T or T-Mobile you can charge apps to your phone bill.
There are a couple ways to browse the Android Market. You'll mostly likely do it from your phone. But if you're at a computer, you can browser, purchase and install apps from the Android Market web portal. It's at www.market.android.com.
Fun fact about the Android Market: Once you've purchased an application, you can download it onto as many phones as you have. Need more space on your phone? Uninstall an app and put it back on later if you need it again, at no additional charge.
To install from the Android Market on your phone
- Choose an app.
- To install, tap "Free" (If it's a paid app, you'll tap "Purchase"
- You'll be asked to accept permissions -- this shows you what the app can access on your phone. Hit yes, and the app will download and install.
Note: You can cancel a download as it's happening. For paid apps, you can request a refund within 15 minutes.
To install apps from the Android Market
- Go to market.android.com from a web browser.
- Pick an app. Hit the install button.
- You'll be asked to accept permissions, and choose which device you want to install on (if you have more than one).
- Look over the permissions and hit the install button again. The app will magically be downloaded and installed on your phone.
The Amazon Appstore
A relative newcomer is the Amazon Appstore. It's similar to the Android Market in that you'll have to have an account with Amazon to use it. Unlike the Android Market, the Amazon Appstore likely didn't come pre-installed on your phone, so you'll need to download it.
Once it's on your phone, you can download apps directly from it or, like the Android Market, from a web portal. App downloaded through the Amazon Appstore will be updated through the Amazon Appstore and not through the Android Market.
How to install apps from the Amazon Appstore
- Go to Amazon.com/apps to download the Amazon Appstore on your phone.
- Choose an app in the Appstore, and hit the install button.
- Same goes for the on-device Appstore app. Choose an app, and install. Easy as pie.
The Appstore app remembers apps you've purchased, so you can install them again if need be.
Note that as of this writing, phones on AT&T cannot use the Amazon Appstore.
A great feature of Android is that you're not locked into only downloading applications from the Android Market. Installing an app from outside the market is known as "Sideloading." There's nothing inherently wrong about installing applications this way, so long as it's not pirated content.
To sideload apps, you'll first need to change an option in your phone's settings menu to allow non-Market apps. Check the "Unknown sources" box, and to allow sideloading. Do note that while "experts" will tell you this potentially presents security concerns, you can turn it off and on at your leisure. So you can sideload an app and turn it right back on, no worries.
So how to sideload? If in a web browser you tap on a link that goes directly to an Android application (identified by the .apk suffix), it'll automatically start to download the app, and then ask if you want to install it. Another way is if an app is e-mailed to you, which some developers do. Or you can install apps via the Android software development kit and the command line.
Oh, and because the Amazon Appstore is outside of the Android Market ecosystem, it, too is actually sideloading apps. Same goes for other publishers, such as GetJar and Gameloft. You download from them and then sideload onto your phone.
AT&T and the Sideload Wonder Machine
Android smartphones on AT&T do not have the option to allow non-Market apps to be installed. That's not to say they can't be installed, it's just that AT&T doesn't want you to have the potential security issue of allowing non-market apps. (Which, again, isn't that great a security issue.)
There are a couple ways around this: One is to install via the Android SDK. But we've made things even easier. No command line. No SDK. Just a simple Windows (or Mac or Linux) program we've dubbed the Android Sideload Wonder Machine. It installs apps just as if you were doing so through the Android SDK, only it's all packaged up nice and neat -- no SDK download or command line needed. It's a must-have if you're on AT&T, if we do say so ourselves.
If you can install apps, you can uninstall apps. And there are a couple ways to do it.
From your phone's applications manager
Go to Settings>Applications>Manage applications, then tap on the app you want to uninstall. Tap the Uninstall button, and follow the prompts.
You'll need this method if you installed either via the Amazon Appstore or the Sideload Wonder Machine.
From the Android Market
Go to "My Apps" (Hit the menu button to find it). Tap on the app you want to uninstall, then tap the uninstall button.
Drag and uninstall
Some custom ROMs (and Android 3.0 on tablets) give you the ability to drag, drop and uninstall. Look for a trash can.
There you have it
And that's it, folks. You've now mastered the basics of installing and uninstalling Android applications.
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