What is an APK File and What Does it Do?

An APK (Android Package Kit) is the file format for applications used in the Android operating system. It includes all the code and resources of the software program, and stands for Android Package (sometimes Android Package Kit or Android Application Package). This is the file format that Android uses to distribute and install applications. An APK file is a type of storage file that contains all the elements that an application needs to be properly installed on your device.

It is created by Google and is one of the members of the Executable Files group (similar to EXE, MST, AIR). A program is first compiled on Android and then all its parts are packaged into a single file to convert it into an APK file. These files can be saved in a compressed zip format, with any decompression or decompression tool they can be opened. By default, the ability to install from the desktop or file management application is disabled for security reasons.

To enable it, you must change the “Unknown Sources” settings from the settings. But APKs power every download on your phone, so you take care of them all the time, even if you don't realize it. APKs are a variant of the JAR (Java Archive) file format, since much of Android is built on Java. Understanding this is essential if you want to start downloading filtered apps or customizing your Android experience more than would be possible with the Play Store alone.

Security is a priority on this site and you can download APK files without having to worry about spyware and viruses. APK files for new versions of Android are often leaked ahead of time, giving you early access to all the exciting new features that wouldn't otherwise be available to you. When the application is ready for shipping, Android Studio compiles it and then places it all in one container: an APK. The APK file is advantageous in many cases, such as for downloading geographically restricted or incompatible applications. Normally, when you visit Google Play and download or update an application, the store automatically installs the APK for you. You can also install an APK file directly from a desktop or from a file management application without downloading it. However, incomplete APK files can contain malware, as many who thought they were receiving the first versions of Fortnite for Android discovered with dismay.

Downloading APKs from sources other than the Play Store is useful and is one of the best parts of using Android. If you have an Android device, chances are you've heard of an APK file at some point and wondered what it is. Now you know that an APK file is a container for applications used in the Android operating system, and that it contains all the code and resources needed for proper installation on your device.

Paul Phommajack
Paul Phommajack

Unapologetic coffee junkie. Incurable writer. Mobile Android enthusiast. Knows APK files inside and out. Possibly an Android himself.