APKGrabber: update Android apps without Google Play

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 22, 2019
Apps, Google Android

APKGrabber is an application for Google's Android operating system to update installed applications without using Google Play.

The application is a fork of APKUpdater which we reviewed in 2017, twice. APKUpdater development stopped in 2017 and the new app takes over making sure that it is fully compatible with new Android devices and operating system versions.

There are two core reasons why someone would want to use an application like APKGrabber, and both have to do with Google Play.

The first reason is that some Android users don't want Google Play on their devices because of privacy reasons. The second that they may update applications that are not on Google Play, or install versions of apps that are not yet available on Google Play.

Tip: Find out how to save installed Android apps to your device.


APKGrabber looks and functions pretty much like APKUpdater. The application displays the list of installed apps on start, each with its name and version.

A tap on the scan button runs a scan for updates. The application scans third-party hosts like APK Mirror for updates and displays all updates that it finds in the updates tab in the interface. APK Mirror is the default source but you may add Google Play, APK Pure, or Uptodown to the list of sources in the application settings.

The current and new versions are displayed for each app, and you may either ignore an update or hit the source button to open it in a browser to download the updated APK file to your device to install it.

The app does not update applications that you select automatically. While that is less comfortable, it does give you more control over the updating process.

New users may want to go through the options on first start; you may change update scan parameters, disable self-update checks, or enable Wi-Fi only checking there.

Closing Words

APKGrabber is a useful application for Android users who don't want to use Google Play, cannot use it, or want application updates to reach their devices faster or at all. There is a risk in downloading apps from third-party sources, but the same is true for apps that are distributed through Google Play as the past has shown.

Now You: How do you update your apps?

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2.5 based on 29 votes
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  1. Marsha Roberts said on August 23, 2021 at 2:24 am

    I do not own a credit card but I would like to have my youtube account updated please

  2. n said on February 26, 2020 at 12:12 pm

    The original program is now back in development.


  3. Gookie said on October 27, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    I was hoping it would automatically update the apps. It should be called “Update Finder”. As it doesn’t grab the updates but does find them.
    Any updater the does that other then the play store?

  4. Deepak said on August 13, 2019 at 4:10 pm

    Wonderful app. Downloads apps without signing in to google play store.

  5. RAWReality said on May 27, 2019 at 3:45 am

    Seriously, using any other site than the one the app uses by default is not only blasphemy, it’s also a bit tyrannical…. Not to mention nonsensical.



    1. e-sushi said on September 11, 2019 at 4:48 am

      Seriously, the main site which the app developer uses for its development and APK releases is Github — just like the article mentioned. So, maybe get the facts straight before barking up someone’s tree for the wrong reasons and pointing to some apk mirror (it’s in the name, duh).

  6. Antony said on March 27, 2019 at 12:38 am

    “APKGrabber is an application for Google’s Android operating system to update installed applications without using Google Play”
    Sorry I’m bit confused here, I think the title is misleading.

  7. DonPachiHK said on March 26, 2019 at 12:53 am

    I go to f-droid but these app(lications) may turn useful, sometimes.

  8. Herman said on March 23, 2019 at 6:34 pm

    Very useful. Sick of having to sign in to a forced (unused and unwanted) gmail account created purely to get apps on my android.

    I have found various sites on the web to download without this silly named repository but having a viable alternative is long overdue.

  9. KERR said on March 23, 2019 at 4:19 am

    Hey this is awesome! They type of stuff that keeps me reading ghacks.

    BTW, have you considered integrating Disqus commenting? I’m a big fan.

  10. John Fenderson said on March 22, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    “How do you update your apps?”

    I’m one of those who doesn’t use Play. I do use F-Droid and, for a couple of things, the Amazon app store. Both of those come with their own alternatives to the Play app. I also manually download, install, and update a number of apps. This looks like a more convenient alternative to doing that. I’ll check it out. Thanks!

  11. TelV said on March 22, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    I update manually using my data bundle rather than wifi. It’s the only way to prevent Samsung installing even more junk on my phone. They still send me prompts to install the latest ‘new features’ and I have to choose “Not now” or “Later” every time, but at least it allows me to control what gets installed and what doesn’t.

  12. JTurk said on March 22, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    Yalp Store is an another opensource application that has similar functionality to this app.

  13. Zecc said on March 22, 2019 at 1:02 pm

    I can’t find the apk to download on the landing page (on GitHub) – am I supposed to compile it myself from source?
    Or am I missing something?

    1. someone said on March 22, 2019 at 3:07 pm

      You can download the APK at https://github.com/hemker/apkgrabber/releases. The URL to download the last version is https://github.com/hemker/apkgrabber/releases/download/v1.1.10/app-release.apk

      Alternative, you can also download it on f-droid

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on March 22, 2019 at 2:48 pm

      Just select the Releases tab there, it is a bit hidden.

  14. happysurf said on March 22, 2019 at 9:37 am

    Very useful tool for update my old smartwatches without Google account that I use as security house cam.
    Thank you Martin.

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