How to Install Non-Market Apps on Your Android Device (Unknown Source app)

Although the Android Market offers thousands upon thousands of applications to choose from, sometimes you’ll want to break free and install applications that aren’t available on the Market. Read on to learn how.

Android’s Default Defenses

Your Android phone is, by default, set to disallow any applications that aren’t from the Android Market. It’s a wise move as the majority of users are more likely to be exposed to a rogue application than they are to go searching for apps outside of the Market. None the less there are times where you might want to install third-party apps that aren’t sourced through the Market.

For example, earlier today we highlighted Kongregate’s new Android application Kongregate Arcade. Google pulled their app from the Marketplace because it violated one of the Market policies (an application should not install other applications). In the case of Kongregate’s app it isn’t at all malicious (you get the application because you want more games after all) but it does fall afoul of the rules.

Disabling Application Blocking

If you attempt to load an APK file (the Android version of the Windows Mobile CAB or the iOS IPA file) you’ll get an error message like this:

Tap on the Settings button to navigate to the Application settings sub-menu. If you’re trying to get there without an application warning screen prompt, navigate there via Settings –> Applications. There you’ll see a screen that looks like so:

What we’re interested in is the Unknown source, check the box beside it. You’ll get a stern warning, click OK and double check that the box is checked properly.

At this point you can now click on that link or navigate to the APK file saved on your SD card and install the application. We recommend that you go back into the Application settings once you’re done installing your non-Market applications and uncheck the box—it’s only a few clicks to enable it again in the future when you need it.
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