Install an app from Google Play and, while the installer takes the form of an APK files, you’re never given the opportunity to download the file directly. Using the APK Downloader extension for Chrome, you can download any APK you need so you have it as a backup.
This does not mean that you can wade into the store and start downloading all of the premium apps and games you’ve always had your eye on. This is not a tool for piracy, but it will enable you to download the APK for any free apps.
Note: Using APK Downloader is against Google’s Terms of Service as it involves accessing Google Play using means ‘other than through the interface that is provided by Google’.
You can download a copy of the extension by paying a visit to Code Kiem. You will need to right click the link to the latest version of the extension and select Save Target As.
To install APK Downloader, click the menu button to the upper right of Chrome and select Settings, click Extensions and then drag the .crx file you have downloaded onto the extensions page – make sure you drag to the center of the page so the ‘Drop to install’ drop zone appears. Click Add and a new icon will appear to the far right of the address bar.
Click the Options link beneath the APK Downloader entry on the Extensions page and you will be asked to provide your email, password and device ID. Enter the email address and password associated with your Google Play account. The extension’s page provides details for why this information is needed.
When it comes to your Android Device ID, there are a couple of options available to you. If you’re using a phone, bring up your dialer and call *#*#8255#*#*. Scroll down through the data that is shown and beneath the JID entry which lists your email address, you’ll find your Device ID in hexadecimal format. We’re interested in the 16 characters that appear after ‘android-‘
If you have a tablet – although you can also do this with a phone – you should download Device ID from Google Play. This provides you with the same information.
Enter all of these details into the Options page for APK Downloader and click Login.
Now you can head over to Google Play and start browsing through the available titles. When you find something you would like to download, open up its page and click the APK Downloader icon at the right hand side of the address bar and save the APK as you would any other download.
If you have trouble downloading APKs, go back and double check that your Device ID has been entered correctly – get it wrong and you’ll see nothing but download errors.
Mark Wilson is a software fiend and a fan of the new, shiny and intriguing. Never afraid to get his hands dirty with some full-scale geekery, he’s always trying out the latest apps, hacks and tweaks. He can be found on Twitter and Google+.
- Published 03/14/13