How-to: Install 3rd Party Applications in your Android

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 October 2011 00:05

As per all smartphones, the most important aspect of Android phones must be the ability to install applications to your phone to make it more interesting and interactive.

Besides the normal way of downloading and installing the applications that you can find in the Android Market, there are many other 3rd party applications that are available for us from other sources but not published in the Android Market.

Faced with such a situation, there are two ways to install third party applications on your Android phones:

    • The first way is by installing 3rd party applications through the online Android Market and the instructions will be covered here.


  • The second way is to manually install APK applications developed using the Android SDK on your Android phone via USB.

Let’s go through the steps in installing an application using the Android SDK. Do take note that all these information is not new and are quite readily available from a few sites but I have helped to summarize all the steps here as some of the information required is all over the place.

Do note that the instructions below are only valid for Windows XP users and connecting to your Android phone for the very first time.

    1. Download the Android SDK. Make sure to get one that is applicable to your PC.


    1. "Install" the Android SDK on your computer by the steps below:
        • Unpack the Android SDK archive to a safe location on your machine. By default, the SDK files are unpacked into a directory named android-sdk-<machine-platform>. Make a note of the name and location of the unpacked SDK directory on your system — you will need to refer to the SDK directory later.

      • Highly recommended! You may want to add the location of the SDK's primary tools directory to your system PATH. The primary tools/ directory is located at the root of the SDK folder. Adding tools to your path lets you run Android Debug Bridge (adb) and the other command line tools without needing to supply the full path to the tools directory.
        • On Windows, right-click on My Computer, and select Properties. Under the Advanced tab, hit the Environment Variables button, and in the dialog that comes up, double-click on Path (under System Variables). Add the full path to the tools/ directory to the path.


    1. Download the Android USB drivers via the steps below:
      • To download the driver, it is recommended to use the Android SDK and AVD Manager tool that is included with the Android SDK.
        • When you are ready to download the driver, follow the instructions to launch the Android SDK and AVD Manager. The Android SDK and AVD Manager is the tool that you use to install and upgrade SDK components in your development environment.
            • On Windows only, you can launch the tool by double-clicking a script file.
              • To launch the tool using the script, double-click "SDK Setup.exe" at the root of the SDK directory.

          • In all environments, you can access the tool from a command line.
              1. Navigate to the <sdk>/tools/ directory
              2. Execute the android tool command with no options.
        • After launching the Android SDK and AVD Manager, from the Available Packages panel, select "Usb Driver Package" and download it to your computer. The driver files are downloaded into the <sdk>\usb_driver directory.


    1. Follow the instructions below to install the USB Driver:
      • If you are connecting an Android-powered device to your computer for the first time, follow the below procedure to "Perform a fresh installation.
        • Windows XP: Perform a fresh installation
            1. Connect your Android-powered device to your computer's USB port. Windows will detect the device and launch the Hardware Update Wizard

            1. Select "Install from a list or specific location" and click "Next

            1. Select "Search for the best driver in these locations"; un-check "Search removable media"; and check "Include this location in the search

            1. Click "Browse..." and locate the folder where you copied the installation packag

            1. Click "Next" to install the driver and the Android USB Driver is installed!
    2. Change your settings to permit third party applications by going to your Android phone and choosing MENU > Settings > Applications > Unknown Sources.


    1. Turn USB debugging ON on your phone, Go to the home screen, press MENU > Settings > Applications > Development, then enable USB debugging.


    1. From Command line on your computer enter
      ‘adb install <APK_FILE_PATH><APK_FILE>’
      (e.g. adb install C:/AndroidApps/NightStand.apk)


  1. Your application is installed in your phone and ready to be used!

As you can see, installing 3rd party applications via USB is a very time consuming method and it is not recommended for most users.

It is hgihly recommended thus to install 3rd party applications via the App Installer application that you can find in the Android Market. The instructions are covered in the article here.

Hope you enjoy this how-to and do feel free to drop a comment or email to us for any clarifications!


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