The Play Store isn’t great for exploring, but Android users should have more control over their app experiences. That’s why alternative app sources are so essential to a well-rounded ecosystem. So if you’re looking for a Play Store alternative to dig up more apps that appeal to your personal interests, whether that’s open-source apps like on F-Droid or a library of APKs like the ones on APKMirror, there are some incredible options out there that the Play Store just can’t compete with. That’s why we’ve collected the most famous Play Store alternatives that can help you find it the best applications to add to your reliable android phone. Let’s dig.
APKMirror is one of the most trusted sources to sideload apps to your Android device. You can easily grab an APK (source file) for most apps, but you have to be careful where you find these APKs. That’s why we turn to APKMirror, as each listing is vetted by its owner. Please note that APKs may slowly be phased out in favor of split APKs or app bundling as app developers look to save on bandwidth and storage space. But fortunately, APKMirror supports this new structure, so there are ways to get and sideload bundled apps in the same way as an APK. So if you’re looking for ways to grab apps directly or if you need a particular version that’s no longer published on the Play Store, then APKMirror has you covered.
Samsung Galaxy store
Now, if you’re looking for a traditional app store experience, the Samsung Galaxy Store offers just that. Unfortunately, not all devices can access the Galaxy Store. You can only use the app with Samsung Galaxy devices, which should be part of your app library by default. The store offers fewer apps than Google, but only requires you to connect to your Samsung account and still includes exclusives such as the mobile version of Fortnite, something the Play Store doesn’t offer. While the Galaxy Store may not completely replace the Play Store for everyone, it is still a healthy alternative for Samsung users.
TapTap is a real alternative to the many games in the Google Play Store and is an app store exclusively for games. Exclusives aren’t unheard of on TapTap, so you’ll find that some titles not seen on the Play Store are already available for pre-registrations as exclusives on TapTap. This indicates that the store is growing to compete with Google. That’s why some of the spicier titles, like Valorant Mobile, are only available for pre-registration on TapTap. The store offers many titles that you can also get on the Play Store, and you can find others sorted by personal tastes and preferences. The main difference is that discoverability is much easier on TapTap as it focuses on games. So if you want to give TapTap on your Android device then go for the full version (APK file) instead of the Lite version in the Play Store.
Like the Samsung Galaxy Store, the Amazon App Store traditionally functions as an app store where you will find a variety of Android games and apps. To access the store app, you need to install the APK associated on Amazon; you’ll also need to create an Amazon account (if you don’t already have one). Overall, the interface is clean and you no longer have to jump between menus to navigate to your library; all downloaded apps are under “My Apps” in the app store, which you can filter by latest, alphabetical order, and not installed. We praise the Amazon App Store’s design for being simple and easy to navigate, making it a great alternative to the Play Store, which is overcrowded with repetitive recommendations.
Amazon App Store (APK Download)
F-Droid is your go-to for free and open-source software on Android; in other words, this is an app developer’s paradise (and app acquirers like ourselves). So if you’re looking for complete freedom from Google, F-Droid is also the best place to start. F-Droid is free and the app catalog is non-commercialized (much unlike Google), though you are free to donate to the developers on your own initiative. The only downside is that this app store style takes some learning and tweaking, as the design isn’t tailored to the everyday user. But that’s comparable to how powerful a photo editing program like GIMP performs (even if it’s complicated to use at first), as well as the best commercially available program, Adobe Photoshop. So it will be a challenge to return once you get used to F-Droid.
For a third-party app store, SlideMe is a practical alternative to the Play Store; it finds both paid and free apps for your android device. However, you’ll notice a diverse selection of non-gaming apps and simple arcade-style games, but nothing on the triple AAA gaming scale, so gamers may need to opt for other options on this list. On the other hand, SlideMe excels with simple everyday apps, offering a less cluttered and intrusive experience than Google Play Store; if you want to download OfficeSuite or a PDF reader, you can turn to the SlideMe marketplace to get set up.
AppBrain makes it easy to manage apps and you can use it alongside other app store resources (note that Amazon App Store doesn’t work). You can turn to AppBrain to network apps and make recommendations and suggestions based on apps you like. To use AppBrain, you don’t necessarily need a Google account; you can log in with Facebook and Twitter. The nice thing about using AppBrain is that the featured app feature is optional (not forced); you need to navigate to “Recommended Apps” and select “Update Recommendations” to see a list. You can browse AppBrain and it will reveal the app’s score, number of downloads and favorite song in a single column. So while AppBrain isn’t a store per se, it highlights the data you need to make informed decisions about which apps and games to install, filling a gaping hole in the Play Store and the lack of competent discovery.
Itch.io is the best path for indie games, where developers have full control over how their games are distributed and sold. You no longer have to worry about complying with the Play Store tax of 15% on the first $1 million and a 30% discount for money earned after that. Itch.io uses an open revenue sharing mode, where developers pay what they want instead of a fixed/coerced rate, and by providing a fairer and more flexible model, developers have less to worry about distribution costs, which is exactly the support that indie developers need. Please note that there is no native Android app/APK for Itch.io, but you can browse the website through your mobile browser or pin the web page to your home screen.
Finding the best Google Play Store alternatives
It’s up to you to decide what it is about the Play Store that doesn’t suit your app downloading habits. If it’s the limited access to apps, we’ve got plenty on our list that focuses on expanding app categories; and if it’s the cluttered UI and intrusive app list experience, we also have some useful apps that make navigating through lists easier. After all, just because Google Play Store comes standard on our Android devices doesn’t mean we’re obligated to use it!