While Apple absolutely despises the idea of sideloading apps from sources other than its official App Store, Android users have been able to do the same for a long time.
For those unaware, sideloading apps is a way of getting apps and games from third-party sources other than trusted platforms like the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. And if you ever sideloaded an app on your Android device, I am sure you have heard of the uber-popular sideloading website APKMirror.
APKMirror is a great, community-led, open-source platform where developers can publish their apps and Android users can get official APK files for apps and games, even those that are not necessarily available on the Play Store.
However, if there is already Google’s official Play Store for downloading apps and games, what is the actual purpose of APKMirror? More importantly, is APKMirror even safe for downloading apps on Android devices?
In this article, I will try to answer all your questions about the popular sideloading website APKMirror and tell you whether it is safe for your Android devices’ security or not. So, stick around till the end to know everything about APKMirror.
What is APKMirror? [History and Purpose Explained]
Now, before I answer your question about whether APKMirror is safe or not, let me tell you a bit about the platform and its primary purpose.
APKMirror is nothing but an archive of legitimate Android APKs that can be accessed, downloaded, and tested by Android users. It is, as per the website, “a highly curated community” that serves multiple purposes for developers as well as users.
It was created by Artem Russakovskii, the man behind the popular Android-focused digital media platform AndroidPolice, back in 2014.
Russakovskii started APKMirror as a platform to host large APK files that AndroidPolice used for their news and content coverage. Although AndroidPolice was acquired in 2021, APKMirror continues to operate as an independent platform under its original creator.
Coming to the purposes of APKMirror in today’s digital world, there are a few significant ones. According to the official website, APKMirror serves as a platform to allow Android users to download app updates that are rolling out slowly or are not yet available on the Google Play Store.
It also acts as a huge archive of Android apps that includes every changelog and description for each app. In cases where official apps malfunction after certain updates, users can easily roll back to an earlier version of the app by downloading an earlier version of it from APKMirror.
Moreover, as there are changelogs available for every app update for all the apps, they can be used by researchers to compare newer and older versions of apps more easily than ever.
Furthermore, APKMirror is also a great source to get Android apps that are geo-locked for certain countries or regions due to whatever reasons.
Remember when PUBG was banned by the Indian government? At that time, many Android users got the game from APKMirror, APKPure, etc., and played on foreign servers, even though it was not available on the Google Play Store in India.
So, this was all about APKMirror’s history and purpose. However, what about its safety? Are the apps on APKMirror are virus-free? Let’s find out right below!
Is APKMirror Safe?
Now, if the above questions about the platform’s safety I mentioned are moving around in your mind, let me tell you right off the bat that APKMirror is a completely safe platform to get your Android apps from. Let me tell you why!
Firstly, APKMirror has a strict no-piracy policy. This means that no app on APKMirror is a pirated version of a legitimate app. They are actually official versions of the apps that are signed by the developers and can even be updated via the Google Play Store. Also, the platform restricts the hosting of paid apps, except in a few rare cases.
Furthermore, every app uploaded on APKMirror is verified before they go live on the platform. The moderators also make sure to check the cryptographic signatures of newer versions of apps and games that are uploaded on the platform and see if they match their original counterparts.
This way, APKMirror would know whether or not the apps were signed by the official developers or someone who is pretending to be them. Back in 2017, an Android vulnerability known as the JANUS vulnerability allowed attackers to modify apps and games without changing or affecting their cryptographic signatures. According to APKMirror’s claims, the platform was protected from it “from day one.”
Other than this, APKMirror also has a way of verifying new apps that have never been uploaded to the platform previously. The platform tries to match the signature of the new app with existing apps that are developed by the same company or individual developer.
If there is no match for the new app, the moderators try to download the official version of it from the Google Play Store or any other official source and compare it with the version that was uploaded to APKMirror. And if all these fail to verify the legitimacy of the app, it is scrapped altogether and never published on the platform.
So yeah, as I mentioned before, APKMirror is a pretty safe and secure website to download and install Android apps on your device. It is essentially a massive storehouse for official Android apps and games that can be accessed by any and every Android user and developer.
However, it is worth mentioning that if you have the option to get the apps and games that you want from the Google Play Store, always go for it.
This is because the Mountain View giant has rules and guidelines for developers to publish their apps and games that are much stricter than APKMirror or any other third-party digital marketplace.
However, if you cannot find an app on the Play Store or any other official platform, rely on APKMirror or other similar sites only then.
Hope this article answered your questions about APKMirror, and if it did, let us know in the comments. And as always, I will see you at the next one.