With almost 3 million apps, the Google Play Store is the biggest and most popular mobile app store in the world, supporting thousands of different devices. While a large percentage of these apps are free, many require payment and others offer in-app purchases that help you do more and get further – but careful, because they can add up!
But what about developers? Yes, with the Play Store, they have a great platform to submit their apps to for worldwide distribution, but it doesn’t always work out for them. For starters, app promotion is woeful, and many apps don’t make it into the Recommended Apps lists. That means many people don’t even know they exist. And it gets worse when apps are geo-restricted, only working in certain countries or regions.
These days, there are plenty of alternatives to the Google Play Store; it is no longer the only platform for downloading or publishing Android apps and games. We’ll be looking at ten of those alternatives shortly, but first, a bit more information.
Why Do You Need To Use An Alternative?
After all, the official Android store offers everything you require, doesn’t it? To be fair, no, it doesn’t. Yes, it offers millions of apps, and yes, it offers developers a profitable model for app distribution. App submissions are not cheap, though, and, for the developer, app promotion leaves a lot to be desired. Not all apps are immediately accepted into the store, often taking several attempts and, even when it is accepted, getting it into the Recommended or App of the Day lists is nigh on impossible.
For the app user, the alternatives offer a lot that the official store doesn’t – a huge choice of unofficial content, no geo-restrictions, modified and tweaked content for free and another, where apps are paid, they may be cheaper in alternative stores.
Advantages of an Alternative Android App Store
The advantages of using alternative app stores benefit everyone:
- App submission fees are often cheaper or, in many cases, free
- App promotion is far better; apps stand a better chance of being featured, and many stores offer discounts on advertising
- Developers get a wider audience base and, where apps are paid, extra income streams
- Apps are no longer geo-restricted, meaning developers get to target countries where their apps are not normally allowed, and users get a much wider choice of apps to download, apps they may not be able to get from the official store
- Some alternatives are totally free, offering paid, premium, and unofficial content for free, and users don’t even need to root their devices to get it.
Plenty of benefits to using these stores, so now, let’s look at ten of the best alternative Android app stores.
Top 10 Android App Store Alternatives
With so many apps in the Google Play Store, developers face tough competition. It’s hard to get their app to stand out above all others, and when it takes two or more attempts to even get an app accepted into the store sometimes, it’s easy for developers to lose heart. And with so much more choice for users, it makes sense to turn to alternative app stores. In no particular order, these are just ten of the best alternatives available today.
- Amazon App Store
Amazon is a household name, one of the biggest online marketplaces in the world. As well as catering to just to about every taste in goods, music, movies, and books, they also have their own app store. And that app store is just as good as the official Android app store. Launched in 2011, the Amazon App Store offers users a huge choice of apps and games. Some of them are free, some require payment, but you do get a user-friendly app interface and, as a bonus, Amazon offers a unique currency system, which lets you buy apps and pay for in-app purchases.
One of the original alternative Android app stores, Aptoide, is well-known for offering top-rated, 4-star, and 5-star apps. An independent platform, Aptoide, is open-source, and the developers have helpfully put all the content into categories. You can browse through lists of Recommended apps, Utilities, Games, Top Local Downloads, and much more. And developers also find it easier to make sure their apps go to the right place, getting them in front of the widest possible audience.
There is no arguing that, although relatively new, ACMarket takes the top spot as the most popular Android store alternative. Even better, there is no charge, not for downloading and using the app store or any of the apps and games in it. ACMarket offers one of the widest choices of unofficial Android content, including tweaked stock apps, unlocked games, game emulators, and much more. Many have extra features, and all in-app purchases and bonuses are unlocked and free to use.
AppBrain was launched in 2009, a collaboration between a Zurich-based company called AppTornado and a developer called Mathjis Vogelzang. It is an incredibly reliable app store, with more than 2 million app installations daily and over 100 million active monthly users. Available in 236 countries, it is one of the widest-reaching stores with more than 70,000 apps and games. Developers get a great promotion model for their apps, and can take advantage of non-incentivized user traffic, fraud detection, Cost Per Install pricing, user targeting, and many more tools. Plus, with built-in filters, users can easily find what they want to download.
This is a completely different kind of store. Every app in HappyMod is a modified version of a stock app or game. There are multiple versions of the same app, each with different modifications, and notes with each game tell you what the mod is. Users download the apps and rate them; those with the best ratings are pushed to the top, so users know they are getting a working app. Developers and users alike can upload games and apps to the store, and each one is put through a virus scanner before it can enter HappyMod. It is free to download and use.
- Opera Mobile Store
Opera Mobile Store is a cross-platform app store, offering iOS and Android users a great choice of apps. It was launched in 2011, following the huge success of Opera Mobile and is now proving itself as a popular alternative to the Play Store. With more than 100,000 visitors monthly, the Opera Mobile Store provides support for more than 7000 devices and is a great alternative platform for developers.
AppsZoom has launched almost a decade ago and is a very popular platform for testing apps. Over the years, thousands of apps have been submitted to the store, all tested and only allowed in if they are free of viruses and exploits. All downloads are also secured so they cannot harm a user’s device. AppsZoom is backed by a community of thousands of developers, app reviews, and more than 4 million visitors every month.
LuckyPatcher is less of an app store and more of a modification app. Instead of providing you with thousands of modified apps, it gives you the tools to modify the apps and games you already have on your Android device. You can remove ads, modify games and apps, and much more. You also get a free cleaner, which removes temporary and junk files, a way of removing license verification from apps and games, and a way of backing up your system before and after you modify apps.
A USA-based store, SlideMe, was launched in 2008 as a marketplace that caters to all tastes, soon becoming the second most popular Android store behind the Play Store. Security is the top priority for the developers, and all apps are scanned for exploits and viruses before they can be admitted to the store. A strong community of developers and advisors backs the store, with help for developers on targeting and pricing their apps, as well as marketing and fixing bugs.
1Mobile is one of the best alternative app stores for developers, offering a one-stop-shop for testing beta apps and free premium app versions. So long as the app is secure (it will be tested upon submission), it is published in the store. An app recommendation system is in place so developers can get their apps to the top of the lists, attracting more customers and more profit. There is also a great choice of apps and games for users to download, with built-in filters making searching easier.
These are just ten of the best alternatives to the Android app store, and all of them cater to developers and users. Depending on what you want, be it escaping geo-restrictions, more choice, and loads of unofficial content, there should be something to suit you in this list. Developers get more choice of platform, better promotion models, and the potential for wider audiences and more revenue, so, really, everybody wins.
Try them out, see what’s on offer, and don’t forget to share this so everyone can benefit from the alternative Android App stores.