Download Apps To Your Android Phone From Your PC

If you've got an Android smartphone, you've also got a Google/Gmail account.  After all, you can't easily set up the phone without one.  

Gmail on an Android phone is pretty easy to use.  But did you know that your Gmail/Google account also allows you to view your installed apps, and download new ones, direct from your PC instead of your phone?  And it's really simple to use.

To start, head to http://market.android.com and log in with the same Google account that you use on your phone.  You can now browse the full Android market.  When you find an app that you want to install, just click the Install button and a command will instantly be sent to your phone to tell it to download and install the app.  You don't even need to enter your phone number - Google knows it automatically.

The service is free to use, but remember that your phone will still use its own data connection to download your chosen apps once it has received the command to do so.  So it won't save any of your data allowance.  It is, though, a very convenient method of browsing the Android market.

Another useful feature of the Web-based market is that you can view details of all the apps that you've downloaded (from your phone or via the web) in the past, as shown in the screen shot below.  However, this system also includes apps that you have since deleted from the phone and as yet I can't find a way to turn off that feature.

 

 

 

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by Droozery (not verified) on 5. December 2011 - 19:19  (84440)

Easy Installer, that is

by Droozery (not verified) on 5. December 2011 - 19:18  (84439)

It didn't work on my AT&T Captivate just now sigh

by Zebedeeboss on 20. November 2011 - 3:50  (83576)

DesElms - Awesome Rant - very informative - long may you rant :)
oh and by way of starting a trend on Gizmo's site I am shoe size 10 (agreed very funny)

by DesElms on 19. November 2011 - 17:56  (83555)

Of course, the Android Market is the official place from which one typically downloads/installs apps. It's pretty much the ONLY place from which most of the large US carriers (AT&T, Sprint/Nextel, T-Mobile, Verizon, etc.) want users to download and install apps; most major US carrier phones come with the Android Market icon right on the main homescreen.

Even AppBrain -- the preferred place for many to look-up, search for and read about Android apps -- ultimately links the user's phone to the App Market for many of the apps it lists; and one may notice that user reviews beneath apps on AppBrain often include comments from the Android Market.

Though only the Android Market initially offered the ability to click on the "install" button in the desktop/laptop computer's browser and have the app "pushed" to the phone, AppBrain now offers that, too; and is quite a bit better about managing various lists of apps both installed and, if a list is created for it, apps under consideration... something not possible on the Android Market.

AppBrain is better about suggesting alternatives, too; and, by and large, much more information, and many more basic features are present on the AppBrain site. The Android Market site, though, definitely looks nicer and is more polished/professional looking.

In case it's not obvious, I much prefer AppBrain; but, clearly, the Android Market is the site from which most of the major US carriers want their users to download apps; and, in fact, I've heard that on a few phones from a few of the carriers, downloading from AppBrain (or installing its app) is actually blocked...

...just like AT&T blocks the Amazon App Store for Android app from being installed on its phones. When that's the case, so, too, is AndroLib usually blocked; speaking of which...

...if I had to list a third-most-popular Android app site, it would be AndroLib. They all, though, list pretty much the same apps... they mostly even categorize them similarly (if not identically). So, in the end, there's not salient difference in availability, generally speaking; but my experience with the three has been that AppBrain, though not the prettiest of the three, is the most fully functional and sports the most features. It's my hands-down favorite.

The problem of phones which block things, though, can often be gotten around...

...and WITHOUT "rooting" the phone. Rooting is the Android equivalent of "jailbreaking" an iPhone. After "rooting" an Android phone, one may do to/with it pretty much anything one wants, no matter what the either maker of the phone, or the carrier on whose system it operates, wants or thinks. The DANGER (and it's a HUGE danger) of "rooting" an Android phone, of course, is having the process fail in such a way that the phone becomes completely useless... often referred to as "bricking" the phone. It's actually pretty easy to "brick" a phone when trying to "root" it, and with many of the phones, there's no recovery from it (short of returning it to the manufacturer and paying a fee of sufficient heftiness that it might be cheaper and easier to just buy a new phone (thought some manufacturers are pretty good about it and go easy on people, fee-wise).

The wife and I have an identical pair of Samsung Galaxy S phones (AT&T "Captivate" models, to be precise), and the procedure for rooting them is well-known, relatively easy, and fairly tried and true... with little danger, anymore of "bricking" the phone. And I still don't want to do it. Instead, I've learned a few reasonable workarounds which allow one to install onto the phone that which the carrier would prefer one wouldn't (or, by a means other than the carrier-preferred Android Market method).

Two which come immediately to mind are a freeware app called "Easy Installer" by InfoLife which allows any app .APK file which one can somehow get onto one's phone's SD card to be installed just as easily as if it had been "pushed" from either the Android Market or AppBrain. it's actually pretty cool.

Another method I've tried and am particularly liking is using a little-known (and unexpectedly good) freeware Windows tool called "Android Injector" by Harmony Hollow Software. To use it, one must be able to put one's Android phone into "USB Diagnostic" mode (which most Android phones can do). Using Android Injector, one may download an .APK app file from anywhere down to one's desktop/laptop hard drive, then launch Android Injector on said desktop/laptop, then connect the Android phone via USB cable, and, voila!, Android Injector will install the .APK app file in a manner which essentially tricks the phone into believing that it happened via a "push" from the Android Market or AppBrain. It's really nice.

Of course, there are MANY other ways... other tools which install both on the phone, or on the Windows desktop/laptop (or both), which can, by hook or by crook, allow one to end-run the carrier-preferred Android-Market-only installation scheme. But the two that I just mentioned haven't failed me yet... and, again, without rooting the phone. I'm just about, in fact, to try to end-run my AT&T phone's refusal to install the Amazon Android App Store app using one of these two methods. It's on my to-do list for today (Saturday).

One thing which irritates me about ALL of these app stores, though, is that they're a bit like the wild west days when it comes to consumer protection. On mature and reliable web sites like THIS one, for example, freeware software/utility makers can't get away with not warning the user that the software/utility is adware, or donationware, or registrationware, or open source or trialware, or demoware, or whatever. The users eyes are usually wide open on sites like this regarding whether or not the software/utility is really and truly freeware; and, additionally, a clear and unambiguous differentiation is typically made between software/utilities which are "free to download" (but which may actually only be shareware or trialware), and software/utilities which are really and truly completely free (or open source).

Not so on the Android app web sites!!!! And it's making me so mad that I'm thinking of launching a consumer protection site where people can report the Android apps they download, thinking they were truly free, only to discover that they're adware, or feature-crippled, etc.

Indeed, I remember a day when that was a problem with desktop/laptop Windows (and even Mac and Linux) machines, but the freeware world for those devices has become more mature and sophisticated today. But, again, the Android app world is still in its infancy...

...and so it's much like the old days of Windows freeware. Something needs to be done about it! It's VERY misleading... drives me absolutely NUTS! Shame on the Android Market, AppBrain, AdroLib, and any OTHER Android app store which does not REQUIRE of its app authors/uploaders that they check some kind of boxes or something which causes bold-letters warnings at the top of the app descriptions which notify of the app's being adware or trialware or whatever. Some app makers are up-front about it, and we're all, of course, grateful for that. But many -- most, I dare say -- are devious about it, just like Windows freeware makers used to be (and some still are).

[sigh] Okay... well... that's my rant for today.

Hope that (the non-rant part) helps!

by Ephorate (not verified) on 19. November 2011 - 13:10  (83541)

How reassuring to be reminded that Google knows my phone number automatically in addition to knowing where I live (with pictures of my house), knowing what I and my friends and family look like (face recognition through Picassa) and where I am at any moment in time (through my Android phone). Shoe size 8 by the way.

by DesElms on 19. November 2011 - 17:58  (83556)

Ha! That's pretty funny.

Sad, of course...

...but nevertheless funny.

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