Android Application Package – APK Files

Hey Everyone welcome to this tutorial, today we’ll discuss what is Android Application Package. Before getting deeper into it. Let us first know the basic meaning of what an Android Application Package actually is. It is a package that is basically a file format that is used by Android Operating System. Android OS uses this file format for the distribution and installation of Android Applications that can be mobile apps or mobile games.

Let us begin the tutorial towards the deeper knowledge of Android Application Packages.

Android Application Package

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What is the Android Application Package?

Android Application Package (APK) can be understood as a package file format of Android Applications. These files are analogous to the many other software packages. These packages include APPX in MicroSoft Windows or you can consider Deb packages in Debian based OS like Ubuntu. As we know that any Android Application is built using the four very important components. The two of those components that are Activities and Services. Let us recall what Activities and Services are-

An Activity is that application component which provides a visible screen that helps the users interact with it to perform some operations. For example whatever you see as soon as you open an app, like upon opening the Call logs you see the recent calls. You can know more about Activities.

On the other hand, Services are those part of an application that helps the app to perform long run operations. These are generally performed in the background and do not need the user interference. For example the songs playing in the background. Or some updation going on in the background. Learn more about Android Services.

How to use Android Application Package?

Well, Android Application Packages are built once we are ready with our application. After that we must first compile the program for Android. After that, all the parts of the application are packaged into a single file. And thus the APK is generated. An APK contains all the parts of the programs code like, resources, certificates, etc. We will further those in this article.

Once the APK files are ready, they can be installed in any of the Android phones or tablets just like we install softwares in the Personal Computers.

Remember installing Whatsapp or Instagram from the PlayStore? Well, why only that, any of the applications that you download gets downloaded in the form of APKs. Whenever you(user) download a file, either directly from the playstore or from some other source, they install its APK.

How to install APK files in Android Device?

Well downloading an APK is as simple as the following steps:

1. First of all you need to open the browser or the google play store.
2. Next thing is, search for the APK that you’re looking for.
3. Once you find the perfect APK, click on Download
4. While you click Download, it may ask for permission. Grant Permission and the file downloads.
5. Once the file is downloaded, click on it. After that you’ll see a pop-up, click on YES.
6. The application will begin to get installed on your device.
7. Yes, It is that Simple. Try it out!

Contents of Android Application Package

An Android APK file is a Archive and it generally contains the following files and directories-
1. META-INF directory

  • It has the manifest file
  • Certificate of the application.
  • Resource list

2. lib: It is a directory that contains the compiled code that is platform dependent. It has further more directories within that are:

  • armeabi: It is compiled code for all ARM based processors only.
  • armeabi -v7a: It is compiled code for all ARM v7 or above processors only.
  • arme64 -v8a: It is compiled code for all ARM v8 arm64 or above processors only.
  • X86: It is compiled code for x86 processors only
  • X86_64: It is compiled codes for x86 64 processors only
  • Mips: It is compiled code for MIPS processors only.

3. res: This directory contains the resources that are not compiled in arsc.
4. assets: This directory contains application assets that are retrieved by the AssetManager.
5. AndroidManifest: This is an additional Android Manifest file, that describes the name, version, access rights, the referenced library files for application.
6. classes.dex: These are the classes that are compiled in the dex file format and are understandable by the Dalvik Virtual Machine and also by the Android Runtime.
7. resources.arsc: This is a file that contains precompiled resources like, binary XML.


So in this Android Tutorial, we’ve learned what Android Application Packages are. We then saw its uses and how we can use it. We also went through the steps to download it. After that, we read the contents of an Android Application Package(APK).

I hope you liked this tutorial. Stay Tuned.

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