Google’s Android Market isn’t the only place you can get Android apps. Whether you’re looking for free paid apps, social recommendations or an app store to replace a missing Android Market, you have a lot of choice.
Each app store is completely legit — the ones that offer free apps pay the developer for the privilege. You may even have an alternative app store on your device already if you’re an Opera user.
Allowing Non-Market Apps
By default, Android blocks you from installing apps from anywhere that isn’t the Android Market. To use any of these alternative app stores, you’ll have to enable the “Unknown Sources” option in the Applications settings screen. Check out our article on installing non-Market apps for more detailed information.
Amazon’s app store is probably the most well-known alternative to the Android Market. It’s included by default on the Kindle Fire . The big drawback to this app store is that it’s only available in the US.
If you are in the USA, the Amazon App Store is a great alternative to the Android Market. Not only is it chock-full of paid apps and free apps, it gives away a new paid app every day. Visit it each day to check out the new free app — these apps are only free for a 24-hour period.
GetJar isn’t as well-known, but it’s available everywhere. GetJar also gives away paid apps for free.
Unlike Amazon’s app giveaways, GetJar’s paid app giveaways don’t expire. GetJar adds new paid apps to its free “Gold Apps” section every week.
AppBrain takes a different, more social approach to an app store. It sells itself as an app recommendation system. With its social features, you can friend people and view your friends’ favorite apps. You can also see the apps that are currently hot, site-wide.
AppBrain’s recommendation engine scans your device and, based on what you currently have installed, gives you personalized app recommendations.
You may not have heard of SlideME, but it claims to be the top alternative app store worldwide. It’s preloaded on a variety of devices, particularly in regions where the Android Market isn’t available.
SlideME provides a large collection of both paid and free apps. When you buy an app on SlideME, SlideME gives a higher percentage of the revenue to the developer than Google does for the Android Market.
If you’re a fan of the Opera web browser, you may be surprised to know that you already have Opera’s app store on your device. You’ll find a link to it on Opera Mobile’s default speed dial page.
Opera acquired its app store though a purchase of Handster in 2011. The store contains Android apps, in addition to apps for other platforms. You can access it through a browser on your device, or use a browser on your PC and download app APK files to your computer.
There are many other app stores that aren’t included here. With so many alternatives, access to the Android Market is becoming less important with each passing day.
Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.
- Published 02/21/12