What Do You Lose if You Use an Alternative App Store Instead of Google Play Store?

Google Play Store front page on black Galaxy S21 phone

Before solidifying their dominance, Android and iOS had some major differences that set them apart from each other and other mobile operating systems.

Apple was pretty clear about its methods; it made better all-round devices, but device customizability was never a priority. More importantly, you could not install iOS on non-Apple devices, and jailbreaking was the only real option if you wanted to access anything more than what Apple offered.

In contrast, Android was on the other end of the spectrum with little to no restrictions on what you could do with the platform. But the differences between these two duopolies are quickly fading away as Google continues to implement stricter norms in every Android iteration it releases.

OEMs must tick a long list of checkboxes before Google lets them use Android for mass production. 

OEMs must tick a long list of checkboxes before Google lets them use its operating system for mass production. Not to mention, each of these restrictions ensures that Google maintains its strong position in the business.

The most significant difference between the two major operating systems is that Android has been open source since its launch, while iOS has permanently been closed. The Android Open Source Project is still open source, and anyone with a little bit of programming knowledge can customize and create their own versions of the OS.

apps on a Samsung Android smartphone

However, here’s the catch; Google knows that most Android users won’t go through the hackery of programming their way to their ideal Android version and will use the same Android that comes out of the box. That’s why Google keeps Android open source for the public but makes sure to assert its powers while licensing Android to OEMs.

OEMs must tick a long list of checkboxes before Google lets them use its operating system for mass production. Not to mention, each of these restrictions ensures that Google maintains its strong position in the business.

Google’s monopoly in the app distribution business

Let’s do a quick exercise; try searching for Fortnite on your Android smartphone. If you are one of the many regular users who use the primary Android app store — Google Play Store, you couldn’t find Fortnite and, as a matter of fact, a ton of other apps that the Play Store doesn’t offer. The method for finding and downloading apps from the Play Store only works perfectly until you encounter an app that isn’t officially listed by Google.

The real problem occurs when you don’t find an app of your choice on the Play Store. That’s when a regular user starts questioning why the Play Store is the primary app store on all Android devices irrespective of the manufacturers, and why do some app developers refrain from adding their apps to the Play Store even if it’s the most popular Android app store.

To answer these questions, you can blame Google’s monopolistic policies and restrictions it imposes on OEMs and app developers. The tech giant makes it compulsory for all the OEMs to make Play Store the primary app store on all their devices. Moreover, the Android licensing agreement also forces them to include numerous Google apps such as Google Search, Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive, Google Photos, Google Maps, etc. Worsening the already suffocating licensing space, Google makes its licensing agreements more constraining after each Android iteration.

Google app on iPhone

The tech giant has a pretty rough relationship with the app developers, too, that contributes to the Play Store. The Play Store demands app developers to pay a hefty commission on each in-app purchase made from a download from the store. Additionally, app developers can’t use other payment methods other than Google Play anywhere in the UI, which forces them to pay the cut against their will. Interestingly, this colossal payment commission was the primary reason for the Epic Games-Google clash, which eventually resulted in Fortnite exiting the Play Store.

Google also plans to replace its age-old app format APK with AAB, which will give it more control over the app distribution system. App developers in the APK era had the privilege of having control of their private keys. For those who don’t know, a developer’s private key was like an all-in-one password that they needed to make any modifications in their application and upload it to the Play Store. But instead, Google will now store and manage the private keys of every developer that chooses to use their store.

Should you consider using an alternative app store?

In a time when Google has more control than ever on the app distribution market, it is high time that users should consider other options than just sticking to Play Store and fueling its monopoly. Using an alternative app store has its own share of perks, like getting access to every popular Android app, even the rarest ones, but what about the security risks?

Let’s evaluate the pros and cons of using a third-party app store in detail and decide whether it’s a worthy alternative to the Play Store.


Alternative app stores are witnessing solid growth despite the Play Store having a huge number of apps. Here are some convincing reasons that make alternative stores an attractive option against the default option:

1. Download any Android app under the sky

Did you know there’s an app that lets you block every ad in the Android UI? Or that another app lets you download any music that you can play straight from your smartphone’s storage? Also about one more app which curates a list of anime according to your taste and lets you download them for free.

All of these app categories might seem bizarre to someone who sticks to the Play Store for all of their app needs. While most of these apps have similar security offerings as most apps on the Play Store, Google still bans them as they violate its terms and conditions in some way or another. Please note that Play Store’s terms and conditions include more than just security checklists. Google also ensures that apps don’t hamper its business model while giving them green flags to exist on their store. That’s why you cannot find an app that restricts ads from the Android UI, as Google eventually earns from those ads.

It’s quite evident that Google’s interests don’t always align with users’ interests. Most users choose restricting ads when given a choice, and Google knows this well. Restricting ads was just an example, but there are many ways in which Google restricts you to ensure its revenue models stay relevant. Using a third-party app store is an excellent way of ensuring you get the best out of your Android smartphone.

By the way, if you’re wondering about the name of the apps we mentioned earlier, they are AdAway (the Ad remover), AnYme (the anime suggestions app), and XTunes (the free music download tool).

2. Get Paid Apps for Free

As mentioned earlier, Play Store demands a hefty commission on each payment through Google Play. Most developers simply can’t deny the large audience that uses the Play Store and thus, abide by Google’s policies. Some developers add a price tag to their apps on the Play Store to compensate for the high commission rates.

However, many developers choose to keep these paid apps free on other app stores simply because they don’t need to pay such repressive commission rates. Therefore, using an alternative app store is a win-win for both app developers and users. Developers can reach a wider audience by providing their apps for free, and users can enjoy these apps without paying the Google bounty.

3. Privacy concerns regarding the Play Store

It is no secret that Google is a privacy hog and most of its revenue model depends on milking its user data. Using the Play Store to download apps gives Google a free hand at tracking your app usage and mapping your behavior under numerous parameters. The tech giant later uses all that data to show personalized ads.

But, letting Google have your sensitive information is not the best practice. Moreover, some users prefer not to create Google accounts while using their smartphones due to privacy risks. Google forces you to create a Google account if you want to download an app from their store.

You can avoid all of these privacy risks by opting out of the Google Play ecosystem and using a third-party app store. Many app stores don’t require you to create a user account while downloading any application. Additionally, you don’t even need to download and install the app store in some instances; you can access the app store directly from their website without creating an account.

4. Play Store is unavailable in certain regions

Google offers its services to almost every part of the world, but there are certain regions where the tech giant stays unavailable. Sometimes, some apps are restricted to only particular regions. The unavailability might be a consequence of a country’s internal politics or Google’s inability to operate in the area.

Whatever be the case, you can always use alternative app stores to download and install apps on your Android device without having to break any local laws.

5. Download previous versions of apps

You may sometimes see your favorite apps lose their appeal with every update, or that the new version is simply too different from the experience you initially opted for.

Using the Play Store won’t leave you with any choice except to uninstall the app or continue using the current app version. On the other hand, using certain third-party app stores will let you choose and download any app version.

6. Mods for popular apps are available for download

Modding applications are fun to get the most out of an app. Some mods can even add additional features or tweak the existing ones for good, but adding mods to any app on the Play Store is against Google’s policies. Google discourages the mod culture and bans any application that tries to mod other apps from the Play Store. Using a third-party app store is your only option if you want to experience the mod of your favorite apps.


Third-party app stores sound like a much better deal than sticking to your default app store but it is better to be aware of the cons beforehand. There are a variety of third-party app stores available on the internet, and with no regulating body, these app stores can become the Wild West of the modern cyberspace if proper care is not taken.

Let us look at some of their cons in detail:

1. Malware risks

First and foremost, downloading apps from a non-trustworthy app store exposes you to severe malware risks. Google Play Store uses Play Protect to examine all apps on its store and quickly removes any app that violates its security protocols. On the other hand, many alternative app stores often ignore safety while offering apps to their users. Some stores might even willingly add malware to the apps to steal user data and show excessive advertisements on the host device.

Code injection is a pretty significant risk while using apps from a third-party app store; the app store can modify the app code and gain access to any sensitive data from your device. An injected application with permission privileges on a device can send a ton of data to the hands of hackers, such as device information, contact details, images and videos from the device storage, app usage data, and a lot more.

2. Payment risks

Remember how we mentioned that you could get some paid apps for free using third-party app stores. While that is true, there are tons of paid apps on these app stores, which you will need to pay for before downloading and installing. Many third-party app stores operate their platforms with malicious intent.

Without proper moderation, you can land in deep trouble after making payments on these app stores. There is a possibility that you may never get the app you paid for, or even worse, the payment platform steals your financial credentials and uses them for illegal payments in the future.

3. Bad Refund Policies

If you are lucky to get your app after making a successful payment, just hope that you never need to get a refund through a dodgy app store online. Some infamous third-party app stores are lethargically slow in processing refunds against the orders on their platform.

In some cases, you might not even find an option refund in the entire interface. The situation worsens when you want to contact the app store to process your refunds; you may never find a way to reach these stores, or they might not reply even after you e-mail them.

Best alternatives to the Google Play Store

It is clear that alternative app stores have some serious flaws that you cannot ignore. However, you must note that there are a ton of app stores on the internet, and there are some fantastic ones too. Finding and using a reputed app store is crucial as you don’t want to risk your device and security by using a malicious third-party app store.

Here are the top alternative app stores for Android that make sure you get the best app downloading experience while also ensuring device safety and secure payments:

Samsung Galaxy Store powered by Indus App Bazaar

You might already have experience using the Samsung Galaxy Store if you use a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, smartwatch, tablet, etc. You can even find the Galaxy Store on devices that use Samsung’s Tizen operating system for installing Tizen-based apps.

The Galaxy Store has always been one of the biggest competitors to the Google Play Store as it features an easy-to-use UI and a mammoth number of apps under its name. You can find plenty of useful apps under categories like music, games, utilities, work, fitness, and more. The Galaxy Store also comes free of all the cons mentioned above, as the store features one of the most effective app policies among all alternative app stores. You also get a secure payment gateway and hassle-free refunds using the Galaxy Store, as Samsung does its best to ensure customer satisfaction.

Here’s a bonus for you if you are a Samsung Galaxy user from India! India is a country where you can experience massive cultural shifts within a few miles. That’s why app distributors need to adapt to the Indian market and customize their app recommendations according to geographical and recent trends. Recent reports about the rural tech trends also show that rural India demands customized apps according to their needs. The Indian version of the Samsung Galaxy Store is powered by Indus App Bazaar, which adds a whopping 400,000 apps from reputed Indie developers to the already large number of apps on the store.

Galaxy App Store Indus App Bazaar

While the addition of many such apps is a fantastic feat in itself, it’s not even the best part. Indus App Bazaar provides the translations for the app listings in more than 12 Indic languages for the Galaxy Store. Moreover, the Indus App Bazaar customizes the app’s feed according to the user’s geographical location and suggests popular apps in the region. The Indus App Bazaar-powered Galaxy Store is one of India’s most exciting third-party app stores, considering its unique feature set and localized app library.

The only caveat here is that you cannot access the Samsung Galaxy Store and its features without having a Samsung smartphone in India.

Amazon App Store

Primarily known for its dominance in the e-commerce business, Amazon also happens to have its own app store for Android. Although the Amazon App Store is a fantastic experience, you can get the best out of it if you are an Amazon Prime member. You might know that Amazon has a strong hand in the entertainment and reading section due to Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Kindle. The Amazon App Store is an excellent way to find your favorite books, movies, and app obviously in one place.

Coming to the app UI, you can find some similarities between the basic structure of the Play Store and the Amazon App Store. You can use the search bar to access any app of your choice or use the categories tab to explore apps from your favorite genre. Later, you can preview the app using the developer’s uploaded screenshots and videos. The same goes for books and movies from the Amazon App Store. The app store serves as a pretty good deal if you like an all-in-one app that lets you buy apps, movies, and books.

Amazon Android app store

The only caveat to using the Amazon App Store is the number of apps on this store. The Amazon App Store features only about 460,000 apps on its store. The number might seem a lot, but it is quite a smaller number than the 2.87 million apps on the Play Store.


Unlike the other two app stores that directly install apps on your device, APKMirror lets you download the APK files to those apps on your device. Another differentiator is that while you can download the APKMirror app on your device for your APK needs, you can also use their website, which serves a similar functionality.

Trusting a third-party app store is highly crucial as there are multiple risks involved in using a spooky third-party app, as mentioned in the cons section above. You can trust APKMirror as it is one of the most reputed third-party app stores on the internet. Moreover, the team behind APKMirror is the same team that runs Android Police, which is a fantastic and unbiased tech daily. The APKMirror team does a tremendous job checking for malware in all the apps present on their app store. Interestingly, the folks at APKMirror perform the malware screening manually and scan every line of the app’s code for junk.

Now that we know about the store’s reliability, let us look at some of its differentiating features. APKMirror provides the APKS to multiple versions of an application. You can choose your favorite version of an application if you are unsatisfied with the app’s latest iteration. Moreover, there are times when the Play Store lags in releasing the updated versions of an app, mainly due to its slow screening and app approval speeds. APKMirror, on the other hand, does a pretty fast job at providing the latest versions to any application.

Aurora Store

All the above mentions on this list differ significantly in their functionality, but they have one thing in common; they all are closed source. In other words, the developers of these app stores choose to hide the building blocks of their platform. The Aurora Store, on the other hand, is a free and open-source app store that won’t let you miss the Play Store if you decide to make the shift. The UI of this app store is pretty similar to the Play Store, both in terms of the looks and the user experience.

The all-new Aurora Store is a revamped version of the age-old Yalp Store, a popular third-party app store. The best part about using the Aurora Store is its huge app library; you can expect a similar app count to the massive app library of the Google Play Store. You also get identical app badges like the Play Store; apps get badges like ‘For You,’ ‘Top Charts,’ and ‘Editor’s Choice.’ In other words, the Aurora Store won’t let you miss the Play Store much if you are planning to make the transition from the Play Store to a third-party app store. Additionally, there are times when you can’t access certain apps due to your geographical location. Using the Play Store will restrict you from downloading these restricted apps, and a VPN might be your only resort. The Aurora Store, on the other hand, lets you alter your device location to maintain your online privacy and show apps from restricted areas.


We’ve constantly been talking about ‘making the transition,’ but why do you need to choose one when you can go with both of them? In other words, why not minimize your Play Store dependence rather than remove it completely from your daily usage. The APKUpdater app lets you do just that with its easy-to-use UI and simple functionality.

A regular user reaches a saturation point in the number of apps on their phones after a while. After reaching this point, you don’t need to download many apps and you’ll only download if you find something interesting. Besides, updating apps is the only significant need for an app store. So why not use an updater that updates all your apps on your smartphone, which is faster than the Play Store. This way, you can minimize your interactions with the Play Store and get away with quickly updating your apps through the APKUpdater.

Coming to its feature set, its minimalistic UI includes a list of all the apps on your smartphone that need an update. You then get the option to either update all of them together or individually choose the ones that need an update. Moreover, you can eliminate all this hassle by setting an update frequency on the APKUpdater and letting the app do the rest. The app store will automatically scan your smartphone for outdated apps after the fixed update frequency and install their updates without bothering you.


You can get numerous additional benefits using a third-party app store over the default Play Store, but some cons exist. Choosing a trustworthy third-party app store is vital due to the malware and security risks involved in using one. The above article highlights the pros and cons of using a third-party app store and later mentions some notable ones.

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