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How many competing Android markets (other than Android Market itself) are there and are they any good?

I know that there are at least two others: SlideME and AppBrain which I have looked at and seem useful but which ones do you use and why?

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Is it classed as a competing market place if AppBrain, and AndroidZoom (based on the comments) are just aggregators for the actual android marketplace? –  glasnt Sep 14 '10 at 2:45
    
I think so, as AppBrain has the ability to queue items from the desktop for download which is something Market doesn't do/allow. not sure about AndroidZoom as I've not used it but, from the comment, has a similar feature. –  Captain Toad Sep 14 '10 at 17:10
    
Was another question merged into this one? There seems to be some chatter in the comments that doesn't fit with my original question... –  Captain Toad Mar 21 '11 at 17:50
    
Yes, http://android.stackexchange.com/questions/5605/best-place-to-find-android-apps‌​ was merged (you need 10k rep to see that link). I've cleaned the comments. –  Matthew Read Sep 8 '11 at 19:08
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22 Answers

up vote 38 down vote accepted

I use AppBrain because it provides a nice site, and it makes it really easy to install apps onto my phone. Additionally, I'm finding that many bloggers that are reviewing apps are putting links to the AppBrain page for the app in their posts. This makes it really easy to mark something for install while I'm at my computer reading the blog posts, and then install it when I get a chance.


Edit by Izzy:

AppBrain offers an alternative (and much cleaner) interface to the Google Play Store, which offers several advantages:

  • search results are much less limited (30 pages à 10 apps = 300 results, much more than Play offers)
  • search results "gray out" possible spam, offensive, and otherwise harmful apps. You still can see them, though – but it's quite clear what to skip
  • app details page gives the most important details at a glance. It's easy to see what permissions are requested. And if those form "potential dangerous combinations" (called "concerns" at AppBrain), that's automatically pointed out by a warning sign on the permissions tab
  • Their app (an alternative to the Playstore app) enables you to skip single (or all) updates on a per-app-base, which keeps your list of "pending updates" quite clean.

For installation, you will be redirected to Google Play. In the past, AppBrain had a separate app for this called the "Fast Web Installer", but unfortunately this app was banned by Google. So even for batch updates, the Playstore app will now be opened for each app separately (not AppBrains fault).

AppBrain App AppBrain App AppBrain App
AppBrain App Market (source: AppBrain; click images for larger variants)

Still, I count their Website as a much better alternative to the Google Play website – and the same is to be said for their app, though for installations it has to redirect you as described above.

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Although there's more than one answer to this, I'm going to mark this as the one because of the number of votes. –  Captain Toad Sep 20 '10 at 22:43
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There are actually several alternatives to the 'official' Google Android market (aka Play Store).

I personally like to search for new apps from my PC browser, and a bit less from my phone. Most (all?) of the markets nowadays offer both, via a dedicated phone-app that you'll have to install, except from the official one which is already there.

Until, well, yesterday, the 'official' market would not have been available from your PC (meaning: on a PC web browser). Now it is, with a neat push-to-your-phone one click installation that is taking away one of the advantages of the competition (see AppBrain). The alternative markets, though, have still their peculiarities. I'll make a short summary but don't expect it to highlight all of the differences. Some markets (e.g. AndSpot) do not offer very specific features to users, but try to gather developers by offering advanced features such as easy stats.

  • Amazon AppStore: latest big entry. countries limitations; catalog looking very promising with some (exclusive?) good pay-for apps; also features special offers and daily freebies. Def worth checking out
  • AppBrain: born to let you install Android Market applications directly from your PC web browser, also allows you to discover new apps based on the ones you have. It's a meta-store (my favourite before the official market update)
  • SlideME: they provide applications to niche markets, based on geographic location, payment method or even types of applications that users can't find in traditional channels
  • Samsung Apps: Samsung app store, which of course requires you to own a Samsung Android device
  • AndSpot (now dead): focused around an app for sharing and discovering apps
  • appsfire: yet another app for discovering official market applications (iOS/Android)
  • Handango by appia.com: a huge, cross-platform (Symbian/Android/Java/Winmobile...) market
  • aproov: a quite different web look. Register to download via a specific phone app.
  • MobiHand OnlyAndroid (now dead): more focused on (expensive) pay apps, but offers discounts and free deals
  • GetJar: my latest discovery. Quite a lot of apps, and they have specials ("GOLD") commercial apps for free. Extremely interesting platform for developers, since they seem to offer above-the-average marketing and PS activities!

I'll add that there's a market for Adult Apps too now; and a lot of review/forum sites will link to one or more of these markets, e.g., AndroidTapp or AndroidPit AndroLib.

I suggest you click on some of these links and see for yourself if the look/applications suit your style!

Various sources and in particular this thenextweb.com article.

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+1 Give us those links ;) –  DrDro Feb 4 '11 at 9:38
    
That's a good overview of the alternatives to the official market. –  jmbouffard Feb 4 '11 at 12:47
    
Thanks DrDro :-) Here they come, and thanks shambleh for helping filling them too ;-) –  Stefano Feb 4 '11 at 13:27
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Don't forget the Amazon App Store - amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1000626391&ref=mas_gs –  Michael Levy May 16 '11 at 17:13
    
@Michael-Levy indeed, just edited my answer - it wasn't out when i first wrote my answer, hard to remember to keep your answers updated all the time :-) –  Stefano May 18 '11 at 16:48
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I've been using F-Droid, which is a smallish repository focused on free and open source tools. Not all encompassing by any means but one of the few that is explicit about showing you the license before you download an app.


Edit by Izzy:

F-Droid is a small, but superb alternative to Google Play. Though it offers only about 1.200 apps1 in its main repository, they are mostly high quality. In comparision, these are some advantages it has over the Playstore:

  • Apps are OpenSource, which means they are all free (to support the devs, there are donation buttons on each apps page)
  • F-Droid compiles the packages from the sources. This adds a level of security, as it makes sure nothing was "sneaked into". The draw-back is, you cannot simply cross-update apps between the F-Droid main repo and other sources.
  • Compiling the sources themselves, they also often throw out "binary blobs" and other unfree material (i.e. included modules from proprietary sources). In many cases, this means the advertisement stuff being removed. This again increases security (and privacy). But in some cases it has the draw-back of some functionality being broken, if the removed part was e.g. stuff enabling specific Google services, such as maps.
  • Next to its main repository, F-Droid offers several others2. Developers can provide their own "channel", e.g. for Beta versions. A nice way also for companies or organizations to keep together groups of apps their members are supposed to use.
  • F-Droid is very clear when it comes to "anti-features" such as ads. If an app in any way deviates from the OpenSource idea, that's pointed out straight in colored boxes you can't miss when browsing the apps pages. Quoting bgvaughan from the comments:

    f-droid's Preferences allow you to screen apps by various traits: whether they contain advertising, track your activity, or promote non-free add-ons, among others. While I miss the lack of user ratings on f-droid, and f-droid app versions sometimes trail behind those on Google Play, the fact that I can be sure that anything on f-droid is free, open-source, and not a freaking PITA, is more than enough to recommend its use.

    I can also only approve what Nicolas says about F-Droid in his comment:

    F-Droid apps are guaranteed open source, ad-free, tracking-free. That means smaller apps that don't waste your bandwidth for anti-features.

F-Droid also offers its own Android client, the F-Droid Application Manager:

F-Droid App
F-Droid App (source: AndroidNext; click for larger variant)

More details on F-Droid can also be found at Wikipedia. Interesting fact: F-Droid is a fork of Aptoide3.


1 as of 06/2014
2 see also Broam's and daithib8's comments below
3 see Wikipedia: F-Droid History

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F-Droid also allows you to add ALTERNATE repositories, which makes it much more powerful than it first seems. :) –  Broam Aug 4 '11 at 16:02
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you are free to submit Foss apps and try out the 100 or so that are waiting in the queue. add them by posting the relevant details in the f-droid forums. We need help converting submissions into structured metadata: only a basic knowledge of git required! –  daithib8 Jun 26 '12 at 13:15
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I've discovered F-Droid after the Free Software Foundation recommended it. –  neves Jun 28 '13 at 3:00
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f-droid's Preferences allow you to screen apps by various traits: whether they contain advertising, track your activity, or promote non-free add-ons, among others. While I miss the lack of user ratings on f-droid, and f-droid app versions sometimes trail behind those on Google Play, the fact that I can be sure that anything on f-droid is free, open-source, and not a freaking PITA, is more than enough to recommend its use. –  bgvaughan Aug 7 '13 at 8:45
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Everytime I need an app, I check F-Droid before any other, because F-Droid apps are guaranteed open source, ad-free, tracking-free. That means smaller apps that don't waste your bandwidth for anti-features. –  Nicolas Raoul Aug 20 '13 at 8:39
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The new website of the android market

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I've been waiting for that forever! +1! –  John Feb 4 '11 at 1:56
    
Is there any english version available for that website? –  Yuva Feb 4 '11 at 9:19
    
    
Well, that's new and wasn't around when I asked the question. It performs the same function as AppBrain now, which was the sites main differentiator. –  Captain Toad Mar 21 '11 at 17:47
    
With the "now" being gone slowly when it became a tile-store last year, and removing lots of its clarity and functionality. Google Play is walking backwards. –  Izzy Jun 21 at 15:49
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Amazon has joined the Android app markets ecosphere!

Developer FAQ

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This is very good news for developers - especially since Amazon is waiving the first years fee at the time of writing this. There's a blog as well with some good info at: amazonappstoredev.com –  Captain Toad Jan 18 '11 at 13:19
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Cyrket is NOT chock-fulla-ads and has good stats. It's my go-to site for web-searches and links to apps.

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Cyrket is now dead, alas. [somebody edited my post to reflect this, but I think the update should be a comment or an update -- not a change in my original wording, especially since the edit was inconsistent] –  Michael Paulukonis Aug 12 '13 at 14:14
    
If it no longer exists, then this answer has no value and should be deleted. –  Al E. Aug 12 '13 at 16:50
    
Cyrket had an up-again-down-again history. What will happen tomorrow? –  Michael Paulukonis Aug 12 '13 at 17:56
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SlideME, this is very handy when you want to buy stuff in countries without paid Market. (actually you mention it in your question. I posted this answer just for the sake of completeness)

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The Amazon Appstore (link to download page) is now available too.

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This is a well thought-out and presented answer, thanks. Because of that I have up-voted it. Unfortunately, it's not much use to me at present because Amazon have not opened their store outside of the US yet. –  Captain Toad May 19 '11 at 20:05
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Don't forget about GetJAR. :-) This market got its first big break when Rovio announced Angry Birds would be exclusive to them when it first launched.

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AndroidZoom is browse-able from your desktop, and gives you downloads, rating and reviews. Download via QR barcode, links emailed to you mobile, or instructions to find in the Android Market. Has daily/weekly leaderboards of highest downloaded/rated apps.

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YAAM (Yet Another Android Market). Their app is very lightweight and straightforward, and they use PayPal, making things easy.

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While not technically an alternative market, Chomp (app download) like, AppBrain used to be an alternative interface for the official Android Market. Chomp has recommendations and a review system separate from the official market.

Unfortunately, this app has been discontinued.

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I am quite shocked that two of the main alternatives to google play have not been mentioned. Samsung http://seller.samsungapps.com and blackberry 10 https://developer.blackberry.com/

Blackberry 10 will run android apps but there some drawbacks and their process is confusing and unhelpful but I have had some success

The Samsung app store is installed on every Samsung mobile device (which is lot). They are ultra helpful unlike every other app store I have submitted to.

It can take over a week to get a new app past their quality control but it's worth the wait. They are so good at reviewing apps that I now submit to Samsung before Google Play.

It can be a little confusing at first to understand what they call their seller office is all about but hey, we are developers so are used to learning curves.

Among other things they review content to ensure that there are no copyright issues (something that can get you banned from Google Play) and they review every option VERY thoroughly on ALL the devices you have selected.

If anything goes wrong and Quality control fails you get a complete breakdown of exactly what went wrong (including log cat) and even a video replicating the issue and they provide details on what is expected from you to fix it and re submit.

What really impresses me is that they are so constructive with their criticisms.

Once an app has been approved by Samsung I am more than happy that I have a very solid app that functions the way I want it to.

I just get a comfortable feeling when Samsung approves one of my apps. They don't tell you off or slap you on the wrists or, in any other way treat you like a naughty school kid if you get something wrong. They just help you to understand what to put right. Google Play will just pull your app and suspend you with no help whatsoever to put things right.

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I recently discovered 1mobile.com, which appears to focus on free apps only. Their unique feature are app recommendations organized by topic as "app lists". Also, while they do offer an app for accessing their market, they also have direct APK download links on their website. I find them most useful when Google Play comes to the (wrong) conclusion that for unspecified reasons my device is not deemed compatible with some app.

Caveat: I have no idea where they get their content from; I haven't found much in terms of developer support or an upload interface. They seem to carry pretty much every free app that's available on Google Play. Are they simply scraping Google's website? Are they legit?

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Missing in previous answers is AndroidPIT which is running a separate market. Sure, almost all apps found there are also in the Playstore (but not necessarily vice-versa: so for missing apps there are links to the playstore provided). Developers need to actively maintain their apps on this platform (i.e. upload new versions), and for paid apps AndroidPIT provides its own license API.

So what is the plus of this platform? It has an active community (in the forums and the news blogs), and one can use alternative payment methods (e.g. Paypal) in addition to credit cards. Moreover, reviews for apps can be found there as well. So with the playstore comments, local comments, and the reviews, one can get a better idea of what an app is like -- before downloading it. Furthermore, the German branch even has an App Reviews section in their forum, including overviews for apps on a kind of "per-category" base -- which makes it easier to find a suiting app, as similar apps are grouped together.

So if you like that idea, but do not want another "source of apps" (it's a good idea to stick to one market platform, especially for paid apps -- so you don't lose track which app you installed from what source, and get into trouble on a re-install for a new (or factory-reset) device), you can still go there for information.

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Aptoide serves a bunch of repositories in APT style (which some of you might know from Debian and its derivates). They also have their own Android client used to access (search and install apps from) them. For checking available apps, any web browser can be used as well – simply point it to m.aptoide.com. According to Wikipedia, they serve more than 120,000 different apps in over 350,000 stores (as of 7/2013).

Aptoide App Aptoide App Aptoide App
Aptoide App for Android (source: Aptoide; click images for larger variants)

Often associated with black markets and other "unsafe sources", that's not what it is by default (like peer-to-peer exchanges are not, and like Youtube isn't – though you easily can find "pirated content" there). Paulo Trezentos, co-founder of Aptoide, kindly pointed out several details behind Aptoide in his answer on How safe is it to use Aptoide? And even more in a mail he sent to me. Some core-points:

  • Like Google Play, Aptoide actively scans its repositories for malware. They're using 3 different malware scanners, doing signature checks, and having implemented a chain-of-trust based in the signature of the developers.
  • They work with several universities and research centers to make and keep the environment as safe as possible.
  • They use a "trust stamp" to mark apps they've thoroughly checked (see 1000contest). If you see that on the page for an app, you can consider it 99.9% safe (according to Paulo).1
    Trusted
  • Privacy is considered a high value. Aptoide is very cautious about the way they internally handle the user’s private information.
  • Their “Apps” store is manually curated. So when looking for a way to stay as safe as possible with all those hundred-thousands of repositories, this would be the place (all the app links in this post point there). But even towards all the other repos, Paulo states:

    we have a responsibility to assure that the apps in those stores do not harm the end user.

In his mail to me, Paulo concluded: Believe we still can do better. Which to me indicates they don't settle on what they have achieved, but try to continually improve. If you additionally consider there's a company behind the "stores" which recently even filed an antitrust complaint against Google, that should be sufficient to deviate from associating Aptoide with "black markets" and "piracy" any more than Youtube – but rather consider it a good alternative (or supplement) to other Android app markets.


There are some more advantages worth mentioning:

  • you can have your own repository there – whether private or public. Their Aptoide Uploader helps you upload your apps there.
  • you can use a private repository to automatically backup your apps. Their Aptoide Backup Apps is your helper for that.
  • you can schedule installs/updates. Comes in handy when you're e.g. on mobile data, and just found a bigger app you'd prefer installing on WiFi. Just mark it, and when on WiFi toggle the "scheduled installs" (see third screenshot above).

Try that with Google Play :)


1 Example of untrusted app detection:

Aptoide Warning
Aptoide warns an application might be malicious (source: Aptoide; click image for larger variant)

A couple of things to see here:

  • The little yellow exclamation mark with the red "Warning" title is visible immediately; details below are displayed when "show" was clicked
  • 3 anti-malware-checks have been run against this package, one of them the Aptoide specific malware guard
  • the signature was found suspicious for multiple reasons:
    • it is not known to Aptoide as a "trusted signature" (Aptoide maintains a "chain of trust" for signatures, comparable to PGP/GPG)
    • it was used elsewhere to sign another developers package (and moreover, that developers signature was known to Aptoide, so that was a "re-sign" possibly introducing a hack of some kind)
  • some information on the Anti-Malware checks is included at the end of the box
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I received very good amount of installs from mobiletoones.com and apps.opera.com. Also, my revenue was ramped up too within 2 days. If you are looking for targeted users for your app then you should distribute your app to many sources not just stuck to one website!

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Soc.io Mall describes itself as more than just an App Store. It is a mall where you can have apps, games and e-books. Soon it will be enriched with audio books and music!

  • Tailored Android Mall based on your preferences
  • Many new options not available with other Android stores
  • Unique user experience

Antiroid is an excellent website that will provide you with the corresponding free alternative to the paid app (that you may well could have purchased had you been unaware of this website).

The Opera (as in web browser) mobile store has many Android Applications that are arranged by category.

Providing another alternative for Android Users.

EDIT:

Just came across Yandex.Store

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AppsLib claims to be the application marketplace specifically for Android Tablets

Tablified Market (now dead) is was also an excellent resource for finding Tablets Apps, as well as providing news and reviews

http://www.tablified.com/

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The http://www.tablified.com/ link shows nothing more then a blank page –  blade19899 Dec 23 '13 at 15:31
    
@blade19899 Thats why the post was edited, if you look closely it says that it is dead. –  Simon Dec 23 '13 at 15:38
    
How did i missed that!:/ Put in a waybackmachine link or? web.archive.org/web/20121109035739/http://www.tablified.com –  blade19899 Dec 23 '13 at 15:44
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Now Google is focusing on the educational side, offering a special version of its app store called Google Play for Education. (Initially applicable to USA only I believe).

It makes it easier for educators to find apps, books, videos, and other content appropriate for K-12 students, enables bulk purchasing and the ability to distribute apps to a group of students’ tablets wirelessly.

At launch, Google is offering Play for Education bundled with Google Nexus 7 tablets. In early 2014 the company plans to offer Asus Transformer Pad and HP Slate 8 Pro tablets as well.

Teachers can find apps by grade level, subject, or other criteria, and content can be paid for using a purchase order.

Video: Introducing Tablets with Google Play for Education

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Though it's rather a "link only answer", in this case there's no way around as the given source is (hopefully) maintained and the content subject to change: Here's a list of available markets in the DMOZ Mozilla directory, also giving users the possibility to report issues with them (if any). In addition to those already mentioned in answers here, it also names e.g. Aptoide, AOpenSource – altogether at the moment of this writing 25 Android markets.

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You can also use 4shared and other file-sharing sites to search for APKs . In your search query make sure to add .apk to the end of it (Like app name here .apk). Make sure you have Settings > Applications > Unknown Sources enabled. Then just download the .apk file on your phone and then click on it in the notifications drawer once it's done.

NOTICE: You really should only use this method if you have a good antivirus app (Zoner, Norton, etc.), as anyone can upload an app that goes unchecked (to some extent though, this is not unlike Google Play).

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