Background:

Installing apps from the Google Play store onto one single device is relatively straightforward and painless. As long as you have access to a reliable internet connection and have a Google Account things are easy. However, what happens when you have a poor internet connection (not to mention expensive) and have 30 devices that need a specific app installed? You could connect each of the 30 devices to the internet, login to the Google Play store with the appropriate Google credentials, and download and install the app. This could prove rather problematic in the field when access to the internet is often expensive and unreliable.

However, what happens when you have a poor internet connection (not to mention expensive) and have 30 devices that need a specific app installed?

Solution:

There’s a simple workaround and that is to download the application in the form of an Android Application Package (APK) and installing it directly on the device thus bypassing the Google play store.

What this process does is take the installation file off the Google Play store and make it available offline to be transferred and installed on any supported Android phone.

Notes:

Stock Android Operating system does not normally allow you to download and install 3rd party software. Google wants to make sure most software you install have been approved and vetted by Google itself in the form of the Google Play store. However, all you have to do is allow 3rd party installation and that’s a rather simple task.

Outline of workflow:

1. Download the APK
2. Copy APK onto each device
3. Enable installation from 3rd party users on each device

Step 1: Download the APK

There are various ways to download the APK from Google Play but the best is to use a master device (already have a Google Account) and use APK downloader to download the desired app.

  1. Download APK downloader
  2. Launch APK Downloader and search for the desired app (i.e. CommCare ODK) and download it onto the device
  3. Copy the APK file onto a computer via USB cable

Step 2: Copy APK onto each device

Copy the APK file onto each device via the following options:

  • USB cable – easiest and the device will show up as an external drive
  • Bluetooth
  • Memory Card
  • etc.

Step 3: Enable 3rd party installation on each device

Allow installation of apps from sources other than Play store

 note: The example below is on Android 4.4.4

navigate to settings > security

navigate to settings > security

Under device administration check the "Unknown Sources" box.

Under device administration check the “Unknown Sources” box.