What are “Unknown sources” on Android and how to enable it

If you just scratch under the surface of casual usage, Android is a platform that has a lot of valuable things to offer. This includes installing (sideloading) APKs from unknown (third-party) sources when the Play Store is just not enough. There are multiple reasons why one would consider occasionally installing apps this way and we made sure to explain them below.

What are Unknown Sources on Android?

Apps from Unknown Sources are all apps (APKs) that are not coming directly from the first-party source, the Play Store. Google and OEMs are rather strict and, although you can install (sideload) any APK (Android Package Kit) from any source, apps will require permission to do so. If you are wondering what’s APK extension — that’s what every app basically is in the Android ecosystem.

Installing apps from third-party sources has 3 main purposes:

  • Upgrading or downgrading app versions to obtain new features or avoid persistent bugs that are present on the current Play Store-provided version.
  • Installing apps or games that are not available on the Play Store for various reasons.
  • Installing modded apps which is unsafe and not recommended. This doesn’t apply to Google Camera mods that are widely used and amazingly beneficial.

With that in mind, we must mention safety. APK aggregators like APK Mirror allow you to download and install apps in their original form, without meddling with the code.

Many other services provide apps from the official source as they avoid the Play Store for a variety of reasons. They don’t want to pay a fee to Google or they provide features that Google renders unacceptable. Either way, it is important to understand how to install apps from known third-party sources. Learn more about safety and how to utilize this to your advantage, here.

How to enable installation from Unknown Sources

This is quite simple if you know where to look. You can grant permission individually to each up once you try to run an APK from it, or you can just navigate to Settings and grant permission to all.

If you are unsure how to do it, follow these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Choose Permissions or Apps & Notifications > Special app access.
  3. Once there, locate and open the “Install unknown apps” option.
  4. Grant permission to all apps that you use to access APK files.
  5. Now, the next time you get an APK, just run it and tap Install. As simple as that.

With that said, we can conclude this article. Being reasonably cautious and avoiding misleading websites that promise premium apps free of charge. Thank you for reading and make sure to check our Facebook and Twitter pages for more content.

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