We may be biased, but it’s becoming more and more obvious that there’s clearly life outside of Google Play. In the world of APKs from unknown places, there’s room for plenty of software beyond the typical YouTube downloaders and apps for illegally watching movies online. Tons of developers use other channels to release their products, either to preserve a free and open philosophy or simply in search of greener pastures beyond Google’s increasingly restrictive policies. Here’s a list with just a few examples of this.

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We tend to forget that Google Chrome’s original browser code uses the open code Chromium. This means that anyone can create their own app, as seen with Bromite. Its main advantage is that it maintains a free formula that’s completely free of worthless features. The basic idea is to offer a browser with an integrated ad-blocker and options to bolster your privacy like DNS over HTTPS, although it also includes plenty of other features as well. [Download] [Official website]

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It’s becoming more and more common for long-lived apps that have been on Google Play for years to suddenly disappear without a trace from the platform. SuperRetro16 is a Super Nintendo emulator that, after being available on Google Play for 10 years, was taken off the market in the beginning of March 2019 for supposedly violating the terms and conditions as the developer explains. Whatever the reason, it’s still available on Uptodown and other external sites. [Download]

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This is a special case. MiXplorer is possibly the best and most complete file explorer that you can find on Android. Created by XDA Developers, it’s been available for free for as long as we can remember. Although recently, its author has decided to publish a paid version on Google play with various extra features. Luckily, you can continue using the original free version without ads as always. [Download] [Official website]

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Humble Bundle

Everyone knows about the Humble Bundle platform, which offers packs of games, books, and comics at an affordable price, with a percentage of each purchase going toward different charity works. There are plenty of “Bundles” with comercial apps that have appeared on the platform and that have disappeared since they’re APK files without a system to catalog them. The official app is a good way to know which ones you get, thanks to the possibility to update them directly through the app. [Download] [Official website]

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Uptodown Marketplace App

One of the main restrictions of Google Play is the fact that it’s impossible to post third-party marketplaces regardless of their nature. This means apps like Amazon App Store, Humble Store, and yes, our own official app are not available. Sure enough, a few months ago, Uptodown was deleted from Google Play, despite the fact that the version there was simply a Lite version that didn’t even link users to our own downloads. We’ve already talked about the benefits of using our app on multiple occasions, so we’ll just leave it at that. [Download]

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This is an audio mod that’s hugely popular in China. They owe much of their success to the XDA community, no surprise there. We’re talking about a group of modifications that significantly improve your smartphone’s audio feature, especially when using headphones. It includes a bunch of presets and acute calibration and surround-sound tools that improve the standards offered by manufacturers. As always, the users are a step ahead of the developer. But, keep in mind that you need to root access. [Download] [Official Web]

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Rootless Pixel Launcher 2

This is mutilation. This app is practically the best way to get Google Pixel’s launcher on any smartphone and legally since the author used reversed engineering with the original launcher and introduced the open AOSP Launcher. After it obtained a bunch of recognition, it was published on Google Play. But, and this is a big one, a super important part of the tool had to be removed to make sure the news feed worked correctly as well as the At a glance tool which shows you reminders on your desktop. The reason? The app needed an external APK to be installed as an accessory. The moral of the story here is that such an accessory must be installed using another source other than Google Play. We talk plenty about this in our blog. [Download]

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The precedent that could set the standards. The launch of the highly successful Epic Games’ version for Android smartphones is not available on Google Play. The main reason is their upcoming plans to create their very own marketplace, much like they’ve done for PCs. Just as with the accessory market, this segmentation could break the deal if other developers decide to venture outside big G’s domain. [Download] [Official Website]

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Magisk Manager

Rooting your smartphone is becoming less popular since the manufacturers have caught on and started offering more customization options for their users. Nevertheless, and since innocents sometimes have to pay the sinners’ crimes, it’s becoming more and more difficult to root because of the apps’ incompatibilities with the administrator licenses. The Magisk tool doesn’t modify the systems partition so you can reverse or hide the process at any moment and it doesn’t affect your most used apps. Magisk Manager is a module manager that can be installed afterwards in order to add extra features. Once again, Google removed the app from their platform, so you have to access it elsewhere. [Download]

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Dragon Ball: Tap Battle

If we were to delve into the field of fangames, tributes and modified versions, then we’d have enough material to publish a thousand more posts. Dragon Ball: Tap Battle was an official videogame for Android that was based on the popular manganime. Although it wasn’t released in the western world and its servers were shut down years ago. Later on, several users were able to modify the original APK, which allowed everyone to enjoy the game without having to have internet access and added additional content like new characters. Nowadays, there are dozens of Tap Battle versions lodged in personal webs. M.U.G.E.N’s spirit is more alive than ever. [Download]

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