Ask AC: Can I install Android apps on more than one device?

Have all your apps, everywhere

We get questions, and often they are from users new to Android or from folks with their first smartphone. One question we get a lot is about installing an app from Google Play on more than one Android device. People want to use the same app they paid for on their phone and their tablet, or their work phone and their own phone, or share it with their family. Or they want to play the same game no matter which device they have on hand. We get it — we need to do the same thing.

The short and easy answer here is also the answer most people want to hear:

You can install any Android application on any Android that you have logged into with the same Google account.

That means you can use the same utility app, or the same communications app, or the same customization app on as many phones or tablets that you sign into. That can mean your phone and your kids phone(s), or both your personal phone and your work phone, or any other situation you can think of — as long as you have logged in with your Google account.

Make sure you choose the right Google account in the Play Store application, and you'll find all your paid apps in the "My Apps" section under the "All" tab. Install them as normal.

All my apps

You'll need to remember that local data (bits and bytes an app writes to your Android in its own data folder) isn't shared. That means to do things like save progress in a game you'll need to be logged into a server of some sort. For example, the Netflix app will have your lists and even share where you left off in a movie on all devices because you've signed into an account on their servers, and Clash of Clans will have your village up and ready on every Android you've signed into because they use Google Play Games services to keep your progress and level info. Games and apps that aren't using an online data component won't be able to keep things up to date.

We're not here to promote piracy on any level. We hate it — as in terminate with extreme prejudice level hate. But there are plenty of reasons you would want to use the same app on more than one device, and we just wanted to explain how you can do so and they things to look out for when doing it.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

63 Comments
  • What I want to see is the ability to have my devices auto download apps. ie if I download Angry birds on my phone it would automatically download on my tablet. Please Google. :) Posted via the Android Central App
  • That could get annoying pretty quickly, though. A dialog box that pops up and asks if you want to have an app sent to your other devices when you install it might be useful, but there are tons of apps that I want on my phone but would have no use for on my tablet, and vice versa. I feel like I'd end up deleting an app off of my other devices more often than not if this were automatic.
  • Right statement. But having under Google Play the My Apps section you can see what you install/purchase and don't have on curent device. Easy task IMO.
  • I think what they need is cloud storage of app data, save the app state like they do on iOS. It's the one apple feature that android is sorely lacking. Posted via the Android Central App
  • We have that for games at least (Google Games)- but apps have to make use of it and most don't. We also have it for contacts and several other things. I am not sure I would want EVERYTHING synced, but I suppose having the option to decide what to and not to would be nice.
  • We have that option on iOS and its a pretty neat feature but could get annoying of you don't want to download this app on your iPad and vice versa, I have it turned off.. Interesting to see it on Android. Posted via the Android Central App
  • If you want to install on all of your Google account logged in devices at once (sort of) just install from google play on the Web (from an actual computer)
  • I always have at minimum two android phones in use work and personal. I've used the same paid apps I've bought on both phones for years. Perfectly valid use. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Just go to https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https2F2F... and choose any device to send the app to. You can use that instead of the Play Store app.
  • Seriously?? Lol Posted via the Unrivaled Note 4 or Tab S 10.5
  • I will picking my Note 4 in March and can't wait. I love my Note 3 but I get a upgrade every year :) Posted Via AT&T Note 3
  • You're going to love it. The Note 4 is the shit.
  • Do you have any issues with the GPS? I know some were having issues with it on the AT&T Note 3. Posted Via AT&T Note 3
  • What do you find so "lol"?
  • The 49ers. They are a joke.
  • That's a baseball team, right? Wubba lubba dub dub!
  • Handegg team. "I'm da Blur boys!" - Me with 1200 ping. Fiber in Nashville? Save me based Google.
  • I forgot about the nerds here. Let me translate. It's like Quiditch but without the flying.
  • That's the one from the wizard kid films, yes? I'm English so not overly familiar with the "sports" you guys are into. Luckily sax_derp isn't a dick, so now I know they're a fake rugby team as opposed to a fake rounders team. Wubba lubba dub dub!
  • And you're a douchebag Posted via the Unrivaled Note 4 or Tab S 10.5
  • Excellent article. I was thinking about this very same issue last night as I will probably be getting a separate phone for personal use, and keep my current phone as a business phone. Getting tired of clients calling me at 9pm on a weekend or a holiday and interrupting my time with my family. Posted via the Android Central App
  • You could get a free Google voice phone number to make & receive calls on your phone from both phone numbers on the same phone instead of having to buy a new phone and pay for 2 lines. You can even setup do not disturb times and everything. I think you still need both Google hangouts app and the hangouts dialer app in order to make calls from that phone number. You can also get your calls on your pc and from gmail.
    There's a few free options out there but Google Voice seems to be the most popular. Posted via Android Central App
  • So I can't have my brother use my Google Play Music account on his phone since he's signed in on it with his Gmail account? Posted via Android Central App on The Nexus 5
  • Well, technically you could if you signed into your Google Account on his device, but you'd have to trust him to not use any other part of your account, and most folks aren't that comfortable with sharing their Google account like say your Netflix account. (also, remember the device limit on Google Play Music)
  • I'm just tryna save him a few bucks.. We listen to the same things so ain't no point in both of us paying for the same thing 'cuz I'm always suggesting albums that I check out to him. I know he's not gonna go into my personal stuff. Posted via Android Central App on The Nexus 5
  • you can but with google play music you cant be listening at the same time. at least not while both are connected to the interwebs. so if you download and one goes offline you can both listen.
  • You could add your google account in the account settings and then select it in google play music. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'll try that.. Posted via Android Central App on The Nexus 5
  • My Google account is on my brother's phone. Android phones and devices all have the ability to use and store multiple accounts. He has access to all my paid apps and my all access music as well. I installed my account on my parents devices as well so they could access all my paid apps and media to help them understand and use the Play store until they opened their accounts when they first started using Android a few years back. My nexus tablet, for the family has all 4 accounts and everybody's own apps on it as we use as a family as well. Pretty nice of Google to allow multiple accounts and sharing on all android devices
  • What I want to have is the ability to transfer paid apps to a new Google account. If you abandon an old account or switch to Google Apps your paid apps are tied to the old account. I've paid $100s for apps and apparently I don't own them if I change my email address / goggle account.
  • Not had this issue yet but, yea! What you've paid for is owned by you so y not! Posted via the Android Central App
  • No it isn't. You basically rent software. Granted it for a long time, but they technically can revoke your license to use it at any point Posted by my soon to be retired Note 3
  • How do you prove your new and old accounts belong to the same person? Posted via Android Central App
  • Perhaps match credit card #s? Or some way to link accounts together? Anyhow, not possible at the moment.
  • I think you would have to contact Google to do the transfer for u. Posted via Android Central App on The Nexus 5
  • I have contacted them. They say there is no way to do it. I could always copy the apk files and then sideload them in the new account, but then no more updates. So no point.
  • Damn.. That sucks. U might just have to keep ur account. Posted via Android Central App on The Nexus 5
  • This is odd, and is a flaw that they need to fix because any other platform or "store" (including Apple's) we can simply change our email address any time we want.
  • Log into both accounts? Just because you use a different gmail doesn't mean you can't still use another just for access to your apps.... Posted via the Android Central App
  • Exactly!
  • On the downside, those apps and games you regret buying will haunt you forever lol. Wish they could be permanently removed from order history
  • They can. Go to "All" tab under "My Apps". Hit the little "X" in the top right hand corner of the app card.
    Note that this cross won't show if the app you're trying to remove/hide is installed on the device you're doing this with.
  • 'My account' under Order history, all purchased apps since forever are displayed and cannot be removed from the list
  • Quite correct. My mistake Posted via the Android Central App
  • Someone REALLY loves clash of clans atm...... Posted via the Android Central App
  • I don't see how this article is advocating piracy in any way.
  • Say I bought a game I could then have it downloaded on my friends device through my Google account without him or her paying for it. Ta da. Piracy. Posted
  • That is not really piracy
  • Of course it is. LOL. In some cases it is piracy (wrong) to install it on more than one device regardless of whose device that is because it is against the terms of the license that was agreed to by downloading the software. SwiftKey is one such app. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Because some companies think you don't have the right to run the software you've paid for on more than one device, and go to various lengths to enforce it on different platforms (like dongles, online checks, DRM, etc). On Android, I think GameLoft is the worst, in that if you didn't back it up using TiBu then you're SOL after a factory reset, because it's tied to your Android Device ID (which only TiBu and a few other root apps can restore)
  • Those are the kinds of companies that no one should give money to. Like EA back in the day, I remember having to download a crack for mass effect as the DRM prevented my legitimately purchased copy from working. Wubba lubba dub dub!
  • I like how your EA "back in the day" story involves Mass Effect. Mine would involve Archon. Generational gap.
  • Yeah, I was only born in 1983 so I'm too young to have played the original release of archon. Was the DRM really bad on it? Would it have made a better example of my point? :/ Wubba lubba dub dub!
  • Great article. I recommend this site to people I know who use Android, very informative. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I found this out the hard way. I wanted to change my gmail address and found out there was no way to transfer the apps. I don't have a problem with it now. I found out the gmail spam service is top notch! Posted via the Android Central App
  • How can I use whatsapp on my Android phone and Android tablet simultaneously with the same mobile number? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Google needs to add a gift option. It's a pita if you want to buy apps or books for your kids. And they need to add a way to transfer paid apps to a new account. You're either stuck with the same Google account for the rest of your android days, or you lose everything you've paid for. Posted via Android Central App
  • User one gmail for apps and another for actual email. Ta da! Posted via the Android Central App
  • I have one for apps, one for email and one for voice. The one for apps my fiancée has access to as well, i integrated my phone number with sprint on my main email so i had to transfer my old voice number to one of my other accounts
  • The license terms in some apps specify installation on one device only.
    The thing is, if I have a tablet and a couple of phones on the same account and I want to abide by the license terms I do not see how I can install that app on more than one device. If I want to install it on a 2nd or 3rd device and I go to the Play Store the app shows up as already having been purchased and my only option is to install it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Every device in my house (mine, wife's, children's) have two Google accounts on it. The personal for regular use and the family account for Play Store purchases. This includes apps and the Google Play Music subscription. I'm not interested into giving my personal Gmail account to family members that want to make use of the Play Store purchases that I made. Since my children are still young, they don't have access to the Play Store. When they want a game that a friend has, they tell me and I make the purchase for them. Then I just push the app to their devices. The other benefit of the family account is that I can use Android Device Manager on all the devices with only one account/password.
  • Is it possible to use the same account on many phones? (50-100 or more). The phones have not personally owners. It should only be possible to use Google Play to download and update apps, and not to use email or to log on web.
  • I have 10 same tablets in work, what i wanna do is connect all of them to one google account, but in play store, all of them is acualy shows like one tablet How can i separate them, to choose tablet that i wanna install app on that tablet, not on all?