For Android devices, “sideloading” is a process through which users can download and install applications that are not directly taken from the official Android Market. Recently, it has become particularly popular among users of budget-level Android tablets, as Google’s policies make it so those kinds of devices are unable to access the Market itself. That’s a bummer. But thankfully, TabletPCReview has written up a quick guide to the basics of sideloading, which will hopefully help any app hungry Android tablet owner in a pinch.
The first thing to understand about sideloading is that it’s not going to fully replicate the traditional Market experience on its own. As TCPR notes, almost all app distribution on Android devices is through the Android Market, and most developers of those apps do not offer independent downloads from their own websites. This will make some apps simply unavailable for those who rely completely on sideloading.
If users want those Android Market apps on their Market-less budget Android tablets, they’ll need to download them to a capable Android phone, and then copy them onto the tablet – something that may mess with licensing agreements. To avoid those potential pratfalls, TCPR recommends visiting sites like AndroidFreeware.org or GetJar.com, which offer a variety of free Android apps that are ready for download.
Once the apps have been downloaded, users will need to take those application package (or, APK) files and move them onto the tablet. This can be done through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB, or memory cards, and will (usually) place the APKs on the tablet’s SD card or, should it be chosen, a USB flash drive. There’s a little bit more explanation to be had about how this all works, but to get the full rundown, head on over to TabletPCReview’s complete How To guide for sideloading apps to an Android tablet.