If you’ve ever had a friend send you a link to an awesome game that wasn’t available yet for your device, or you’re setting up a batch sideload for an Android setup project, you may have wondered if there was an easy way to download APKs directly from the Play Store, instead of installing them on one device and then pulling them using ADB to the computer. There is.
Before I get into how to do it, the reason I ran across this was due to an app for a piece of hardware that should have worked on my wife’s phone telling me it was not available for her device, but not giving any reasons why. After downloading the APK and installing it via ADB, I at least got the answer to why her phone wasn’t compatible, even though it was listed on the manufacturer’s website as compatible (it simply was she was running an older version of the stock software).
We got the error on ADB that the framework was too old, realized there have been a few updates, and managed to fix it by installing Sprint’s updates.
If you want to just download APKs to your computer, or to the downloads directory on your Android device for install at a later time when you might not have internet access, go to the Google Play website in a browser and find what you’re wanting to download – for example, Candy Crush.
You’ll have a URL in your address bar that looks like: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.king.candycrushsaga. Make note or copy the “com.king.candycrushsaga” part, as you’re going to need that in the next part.
Go to Evozi’s APK downloader. In the section that says Package name or Google Play URL, slap in “com.king.candycrushsaga”, click the Generate Download Link button, and now you can simply download the APK for install later. If you’ve downloaded it on your Android device, you can browse to the folder it saved to later using something like ES File Explorer, and install from there. If you’re on a computer and have ADB installed you can simply ADB install packagename.apk.
For me, it was incredibly useful as I got the error message as to why it wouldn’t install as opposed to Google’s “not compatible with your device.” If you’re deploying a large number of Android devices, this could also be useful to get your apps together.
It’s also useful for when you’re going to want that app when you don’t have internet available, but don’t want it running hogging resources. You can even download to your computer for later use in an Android emulator, if that’s what you’re into.