What exactly is an APK?

The deeper we dive into the Android ecosystem, the more and more jargon we begin to see. Sometimes we find ourselves scratching our heads and wondering, “What the heck did they just say?”

Today, we’re going to help close that knowledge gap a little more and teach you about a very important part of Android and an acronym you’ve probably seen a bazillion times: APK.


So what is it!?

APK stands for “Android application package.” Basically, it is an archive file that contains every component needed for an Android application to install. Think of it like a giant cookie jar and all of the different cookies you would put in the jar can be analogous to all of the components needed to install an application on your Android device.

Why is it important?

An APK is at the heart of every application you have  on your Android device. When you download an app from the Google Play Store, an APK file is what’s being installed. Thankfully, most of users will never have to worry about dealing with them directly unless they decide to dive deeper and root their device and install a custom ROM.

If you do happen to run into a situation where you must handle an APK file directly, have no fear. We have a how to article on how to install an APK file to your device.