Managing the Android APK files yourself means you get more support and flexibility. You can track down and install an older version of an application, before an update rendered it unusable on your older smartphone, look for apps outside of your region, or even install apps that are not yet available on the Google Play store.
Prominently featured in Kannon Yamada’s list of The Best Free Apps from XDA Developers, AppsWererabbit is the swiss army knife of APK managers; an all-in-one toolset to back up, export, import and manage Android APKs. Apart from being incredibly powerful, AppWererabbit is also beautifully designed and a profound joy to use. Those two things together make it the ideal app to manage your APK library right on your phone.
If you like to manage, or at least store your APK files externally, you can use AppWererabbit to make back-ups and batch export them to your SD card. Alternatively, you can send individual APKs to other apps on your phone, like Dropbox and the Email application. Sending files to external apps in batch is sadly not possible. Instead, you could use a third-party file explorer like ES File Explorer (review) to move the apps to Dropbox after exporting, or check out App Backup & Restore below.
App Backup & Restore
App Backup & Restore doesn’t have the sheer amount of functionality that AppWererabbit has, but it’s not hard to see why this is one of the most popular APK management apps around. With a simple, solid interface, App Backup & Restore can be used to (you guessed it) backup and restore the apps on your phone.
One big advantage that App Backup & Restore has over AppWererabbit is the ability to send batches of files to other apps on your phone. After you’ve backed up some apps, you can upload them all to Dropbox or Google Drive in one go. If you like to keep your APKs in the cloud, this is a notable advantage.
APK File Manager
If you manage your APK files locally on your computer, APK File Manager by BDfreak is a must have. This useful Windows utility helps you collect APKs that are scattered around your computer in a single folder. Your APKs are renamed and moved to a human-readable folder structure, and duplicate APKs are spotted in the process.
To get started, fire up APK File Manager and press Load. Navigate to a location to scan for APKs and confirm. The APKs that were found will be listed in the main window. Select an output folder (this will be the location of your new, clean APK library) and hit the slightly overdramatic Go!!! button.
Your APK files will be organised and moved to the output folder. By default, all the original APKs are left alone, but you can also configure APK File Manager to remove the originals during the process. Be careful if you use this option, though.
An interesting option is to use APK File Manager in conjunction with one of the on-phone APK managers mentioned above. You could keep your APK library synced with Dropbox and keep that Dropbox folder organised using APK File Manager.
There are a few ways to track down APK files, most of them involving a lot of Googling or downloading directly from developers’ threads on forums. APK Downloader by Evozi makes what could be an arduous journey, a figurative walk in the park.
You use APK Downloader by entering the package name, or the Google Play URL. After APK Downloader works its magic, you’re given a download link of the APK on the Google Play servers. In other words, you’re downloading the exact same package that the Play Store would download to your phone.
Two things of note. First, APK Downloader can only download free apps. This is not a tool for pirating paid apps. Second, the website doesn’t circumvent region checks. That means you can not, by default, download apps that are not available in your region. However, you can use APK Downloader with a proxy to download those apps, and it works like a breeze.
Do you organise your APKs manually, or do you rely on Google Play for application management? Tell us why in the comments section below the article!
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