So you’ve got an Android phone or an Android tablet that comes without Google Play? One option for getting new apps is to use other, lesser-known app stores. Papidroid offers most probably the biggest list of alternative Android app stores, but if some of them are pretty good, trustworthy and well-stocked (such as our favourites SlideME or Amazon App Store), they still give you access to a much smaller amount of apps than the juggernaut Google Play.
Another option that has only recently become possible is to download the apps from Google Play directly on your PC. Raccoon by Onyxbits is a free tool for Windows that lets you do just that. It basically behaves as a Google Play desktop client.
How does this work? Let’s have a look.
- First, download the Raccoon .exe from the official website and run it.
- You’ll be greeted with a login screen where you’ll have to enter a username and password for a valid Google account. We strongly suggest using a specially created account just for this (go to mail.google.com, then click on “Create Account”) as there’s a chance your password might become compromised. The Android ID field can be left empty.
- Once you’re on the next screen, you can start searching for apps. Similar to Google Play, you can search either for keyword (“FPS game“), apps name (“Snapchat“), package name (“com.instagram.android.apk“) or developer name (“Supercell“).
- Once you’ve found the app you want, just click on the Download button. The APK files are saved in the following folder on your hard drive: c:\Users\[YourUserName]\Raccoon\archives\default\apk_storage\
- Once you’ve downloaded the APK on your PC, you can install them on your Android smartphone or tablet using the usual sideloading technique we’ve explained before.
If you live in a country where Google Play is completely blocked (say, China), a Google Play desktop client such as Raccoon won’t be of any help. We suggest using a VPN to circumvent the blocking.