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I've installed non-Market apps on my AT&T Captivate using adb, but it'd be nice if I could download an APK directly and install it locally. I've heard of "App(s) Installer" and about a hundred variations on similar names, but it looked like those were just intended to work on devices with a working package installer (e.g. not one that's had the ability to run unsigned apps stripped out).

I've rooted the phone -- is there some way I can either replace the existing package installer with one from e.g. another Galaxy S phone on another carrier, or maybe just an app that asks superuser permission before installing the APK itself? Is this something I could just do directly from (su'd) terminal on the phone? I'm sure somebody has thought of this already but I'm having trouble finding an answer on the web... maybe I just don't know exactly how to ask.

ETA: please note that this is original AT&T firmware. The carrier is blocking non-market app installs, I think by modifying the package installer. I'm aware of the setting to enable unsigned apps, but on my phone it has no effect.

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6 Answers 6

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Turns out I was right to suspect that this has been done before. The fix I was looking for was Super One Click. It has a fix to allow non market apps. I think what it does is to change the config file that the settings dialog ("Allow Non Market Apps") normally sets. My guess its that AT&T just took out the UI for the option.

Anyway, works perfectly and I strongly recommend it for anybody stuck under AT&T'S thumb!

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No, on stock AT&T ROM you cannot install applications from unknown sources. You have to root your phone, and install a 3rd party ROM. This is because AT&T removed the "Allow Unknown Sources" option in the settings.

The only way around this is to install a ROM that allows unknown sources. (or you can use ADB as you mentioned in your original question)

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Well that sucks :-/ Was hoping maybe somebody had worked out a way to e.g. replace some libraries with ones from a non-crippled phone... Without flashing a whole new ROM. That's probably my next move –  James B Feb 9 '11 at 4:04
    
Well, technically, you can probably replace /system/app/Settings.apk from a rom for your phone, if you have root access. That is where setting is that AT&T removed. –  Ryan Conrad Feb 10 '11 at 12:02

If the app you want is in the Market but blocked by AT&T, you can do this:

  1. Turn off your phone.
  2. Pop out the SIM card.
  3. Turn your phone back on and connect to a Wi-Fi network.
  4. Open the Android Market, search for, and install the previously carrier-blocked app.
  5. Turn off your phone.
  6. Pop the SIM card back in.
  7. Turn your phone back on.
  8. Enjoy!

(source: http://lifehacker.com/#!5758134/how-to-easily-install-carrier+blocked-apps-like-pdanet-from-the-android-market)

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I don't own a Samsung Galaxy S, and certainly not a user of AT&T, but on my Samsung Spica (Samdroid Mod), if I dropped an .apk file in /data/app/ or /system/app (warning: you need to be rooted to write to these locations, so you will need Terminal Emulator or Root Explorer) Android will immediately recognize and install the apk. Assuming AT&T has not blocked this method of side-loading, then it probably will work on SGS as well.

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I'm pretty sure this is what I was asking for. From the phone, it sounds like I can run e.g. Terminal Emulator and put the .apk in that dir to install it. Will try ASAP. –  James B Feb 13 '11 at 6:47

How was the package installer "stripped out"? On my Galaxy S, you can just use a file manager and click the .apk file, and you'll be prompted to install. Do you not have the Unknown sources option checked in Settings -> Applications?

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1  
See comment above about AT&T; short version, they're jerks and go to great lengths to cripple app installation. Hence, my question. –  James B Feb 8 '11 at 4:23
    
That sucks. I'll look into it more and let you know if I find anything. –  Matthew Read Feb 8 '11 at 14:28

Yes, you can, as long as your phone has an option called “unknown sources" under the option "Applications" of the "Settings” and the option is marked.

Go to the Application launcher, click on Settings then on Applications and then check the option "Unknown sources" to activate this functionality.

If your phone does not have this option, then you can't install applications from outside the market.

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AT&T is infamous for disabling that option, so your answer isn't really helpful. –  Al E. Feb 7 '11 at 18:47
    
By "outside the market", does that mean only the official Android market? Can other Android app markets be used? –  Graham Borland Feb 8 '11 at 10:28
    
To use other markets you need to install the app that give you access to that market so if your phone does not come with that app and does not have the option of "Unknown sources" enabled this will be impossible. –  Doliveras Feb 8 '11 at 10:46

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