Google Play is the leader among digital distribution services thanks to 2.65 million apps and games available. The next one in line is Apple's App Store, with 2.18 million apps and games. So if you're planning to make another app, then the choice for uploading your app to Google Play and App Store seems obvious, right? Well, yes and no. There are some other app stores you might want to consider uploading your app to.
Why Use an Alternative App Store?
It might appear that there are no pitfalls, but that assumption isn’t entirely true. For example, most of Google’s and Apple’s competitors are not trying to compete with Google Play and App Store. Rather, they offer different approaches and niches.
Further, it’s true that third-party app stores do pay for downloads and often provide more commercially beneficial app deals than Google Play and App Store. However, is using a third-party app store really worth it? Well, there is not just one right answer to this question.
In fact, our answer takes the pros and cons into account. So, what are the advantages of alternative stores? Let’s take a closer look.
Many of them provide a discounted premium version of apps or offer other money-saving offers. More often than not, there is no uploading fee, and they can promote your app by featuring it as an “app of the day” or providing advertising discounts to app owners.
Further, developers have more chances to rank their apps higher on alternative stores since Google Play and App Store are overcrowded. Testing minimum viable product (MVP) apps in a free app store becomes another great opportunity for developers in comparison to Google Play, which charges a one-time registration fee of $25, and App Store, which charges a $99 annual developer fee.
Related: How to Publish an Android App on Google Play Store: Step-by-Step Guide
Some third-party app stores focus on a smaller selection of apps that have been filtered for quality, age group, or a specific purpose. For example, if you offer a localized app for specific countries, then alternative stores might be a more profitable choice for you.
If you’re one of those people fascinated with modified versions of your favorite applications, then third-party app stores may be the perfect solution.
Last but not least, keep in mind that alternative stores have many apps and games that have not been, and maybe will never be, released on Google Play or App Store.
There are a lot of benefits to using a third-party app store, but what are the risks?
The most obvious risk is malware. With third-party app stores, security policies vary from one store to another. Similar safety protocols like Google’s and Apple’s are integrated into some alternative app stores, whereas others demonstrate a rather poor user experience.
Further, some app stores may also distribute illegal versions of apps and games, and some processes might turn out to be not so transparent. Even though it can be time-consuming, we suggest carefully reading the terms and conditions of any third-party app stores you consider using.
Related: Why Google and Apple May Remove Your App and How to Deal With That?
Best Android App Store Alternatives
1Mobile Market is only for free Android apps, meaning it costs literally nothing to upload your app. In this app store, the main focus is on games and entertainment.
Developers can use 1Mobile Market to test out betas and free versions of paid apps. Just like many other stores, they offer a standard 70/30 split. With 1Mobile Market, please note that a special software development kit (SDK) is required for in-app billing.
9Apps is a big, free app marketplace that features all kinds of applications — from games and social media apps to music streaming and fitness solutions. The best thing about this app store is that users can hunt for all popular Android apps with no downloading fees.
A1 Apps Store Market offers millions of apps with detailed descriptions, and this app store lets you set notifications for upcoming apps for Android devices based on your interests. You can also block specific categories, e.g., games, from showing up in your search results.
Accrescent is a relatively new secure repository of Android applications. The library is in its pre-alpha development stage, so only its lead developer can upload new apps. The platform aims to become an innovative developer-friendly platform with a focus on modern security and privacy practices.
ACMarket was designed specifically for cracked, hacked, or modified apps. It’s one of the biggest unofficial app stores for Android, with more than 15k applications. As this app store is constantly under development and introducing improvements, it provides new updates frequently.
Amazon Appstore is one of the top alternatives to Google Play. This app store has a cross-platform analytics service, and it is quite easy to navigate for developers. Further, Amazon pays its developers nearly 70% of an app’s listed price and in-app purchases.
The Amazon Appstore offers an app compatibility test that automatically detects problems for developers. They also have the Appstore Developer Select, a reward program for developers that offers free ad impressions and boosts customer acquisition through Amazon coins. Finally, you get a free paid app or game every day.
APKMirror has no dedicated native app. This app store lets you download and store apps as APKs, meaning you need to visit the website to download those files. Also, APKMirror provides a daily updated list of apps that align with your interests.
APKPure offers paid games at discounted prices. This app store has an easy-to-use developer console that gives access to geo-restricted apps.
APKTime is an archive of the latest and most popular APK files in categories like entertainment, games, sports, and others. Just like other similar libraries, APKTime enables users to surpass geo-restrictions and download APKs for free with no sign-up or Google account.
APKUpdater is another top alternative. This app store allows you to set a list of apps that you don’t want to update. Further, there’s a tool that makes it easier to find your installed apps’ updates, and APKUpdater lets you find and install updates before they are even released on Google Play.
AppBrain App Market provides opportunities to get a premium app for free or top-paid Android apps with significant price drops. There are a number of app promotion tools in this browser-based mobile app store. Some brands can use AppBrain to make their apps more visible in various mobile app stores.
AppSales gives access to several unreleased apps, and it’s possible to download apps for free. This app store lets you monitor the price history of apps and allows you to access geo-restricted content.
Related: How Do Free Apps Make Money – 9 Proven Monetization Strategies
AppsAPK platform caters exclusively to Android fans. The marketplace offers a large collection of games, apps, wallpapers, and launchers for all Android devices. Here, users can also read up on the latest releases and look under the hood of popular apps with comprehensive tutorials.
Appvn offers free APKs for both paid and free apps. This third-party app store offers a registration-free way to download games, books, and mobile apps for Android devices. Users can also create their own stores within the platform, while developers can optimize the source code of applications.
Aptoide is another great alternative to Google Play. New updates come faster than on Google Play, and there’s access to geo-restricted Android apps that are on Google Play. For in-store purchases, Aptoide accepts AppCoins (APPC).
Further, this app store offers a more customized recommendation platform, including creating an app store on your own website's storefront. Currently, Aptoide has more than 1 million apps and over 7 billion downloads.
AuroraStore, an open-source Google Play Store client, is a free Android app store alternative that allows users to download applications from Google Play without an official Google account. Just like Google Play, it is home to all types of apps, both proprietary and nonproprietary. However, AuroraStore claims to be more transparent and allows users to check the number of trackers and ads in an app before downloading it. To publish an app on AuroraStore, a developer needs to submit it to the Google Play Store.
BlackMart takes the Google Play Store experience a step further and aggregates a miscellany of applications beyond traditional app marketplaces. The store has the option of using the search bar to locate apps or turning to a standard search by name.
CodeNgo is a self-publishing service that helps Android app developers and publishers get their apps into more app stores.
F-Droid is an alternative app store with a focus on free and open-source (FOSS) apps. There's a wide selection of entirely free apps and a forum for developers.
They offer no in-app purchases, no ads, no tracking, and no dependencies. F-Droid is an ideal choice for developers planning to test their MVP, as there’s no registration fee.
Fossdroid is based on the F-Droid repository and allows users to explore open-source Android applications. The site arranges over 1,200 apps by category, similar to Google Play, so users can locate trending applications faster.
GetJar is one of the top alternatives, and some of the apps found on GetJar are not available on Google Play. GetJar is an independent app store with a variety of free apps to download.
With this app store, there’s no upfront cost, and the requirements to get an app published are minimal. GetJar encourages developers to use their freemium model that includes advertisements and in-app purchases.
Games Store App Market is exclusively for Android games. The Games Store App Market’s UI is clean and optimized for fast downloads, and they provide access to region-restricted and beta versions of games.
HappyMod brings up the rear of the best app stores for Android apps. This destination bundles over 30,0000 app mods for users to download, request, and test. The platform caters to over 1 million users and is available in 40+ different languages. Users can also vote for the best mod by leaving comments.
Humble Bundle is a digital store for games, e-books, and other types of digital content as standalone wares or bundle deals. Although PC games account for the largest share on the platform, Humble Bundle also sells games for Android devices — from bestsellers to indie gems. A percentage of the proceeds from all store purchases goes to charity.
Malavida is an app store where users can get hold of popular Android applications or download extensions and mods. The array of applications is impressive — from online TV to games to education. Besides Android, the platform also lists Mac and Windows software.
Mobogenie works as a file manager that allows you to download other content beyond apps, like wallpapers, ringtones, books, and YouTube videos. They have some interesting features, like their PC client, that you can use to easily transfer files back and forth between your phone, tablet, and computer.
QooApp is an alternative app store that helps users go beyond regional boundaries and access games available to the Asian market. The platform also hosts applications in the anime and comics categories listed in Google Play in China, Japan, and Korea. Since 2014, QooApp has gathered over 10 million animation, comics, and games (ACG) lovers from all over the world.
Rootpk is an independent Android app store that distributes mobile applications published on Google Play Store. Developers can submit applications to Rootpk for free with the possibility of releasing further updates. The store lets users discover applications via a minimalist search feature and lists regional apps along with popular solutions.
SlideMe is another top alternative Android store. There’s no setup fee for developers. The store has three different types of profiles: Developers, Users, and Partners.
SlideMe takes a 20% fee and offers a wide range of payment options, including PayPal. More than 140 OEMs following the AOSP use the SlideMe market.
TapTap is another constellation of game apps from the Chinese market. The platform boasts an advanced search engine that helps gamers discover new high-quality games. The TapTap community also provides comprehensive reviews on the latest video games and allows users to engage in active discussions about gameplay and mega hits.
Uptodown has no payment system and is available all over the world. They have a free mobile app store and over 150k apps in APK format.
With Uptodown, you can restore the previous versions of an app at any time. This app store also provides a detailed description post explaining the functionalities of most of the apps Uptodown offers.
XDA-Developers is a volunteer platform where developers can advertise their Android apps for free, while users can try out free versions of paid applications as an incentive to buy the full app version. The portal also features free work exclusive to the platform.
Yalp Store allows you to whitelist or blacklist apps for updates and helps you uninstall system apps if your device is rooted. With the Yalp Store’s help, you can download apps directly from Google Play, in the form of APK files, without a Google account.
Best iOS App Store Alternatives
AltStore is a third-party app installer that allows sideloading of iOS apps that have not been greenlighted by the App Store. The store offers both free and paid modded apps, games, and emulators at no cost. However, the platform still requires your Apple ID to connect to Apple’s developer servers.
AppCake is a native application allowing you to install IPA files on your iOS device. The ultimate feature of the store is numerous applications with no in-app advertisement.
AppEven is easy to install by downloading it from Safari with no jailbreak. It’s accessible from devices with iOS versions from 8 to 16 and offers some apps that can’t be found in the original iOS App Store.
AppValley is an iOS app store alternative that features plenty of tweaked applications. Its advantage is that users get access to the top-ranked unlocked games and modified apps like Snapchat++. All these are safe and secure.
BuildStore allows users to enjoy applications and games declined by Apple. Unlike the majority of tweak stores, BuildStore isn’t free and requires a user to purchase a monthly subscription. The store makes up for paid services by providing a huge archive of secret features and extended functionality, including exclusive old gaming emulators.
Cydia is one of the leaders among alternative iOS app stores. It features both paid and free applications. However, the downside is that you can only reach users with ‘jailbroken’ gadgets.
Emus4U doesn’t offer only apps. Its users can download themes and wallpapers without jailbreak as well. Moreover, you can also customize the apps offered. The store features many apps like junk cleaner that can’t be found in a traditional App Store.
EonHub is another unofficial app marketplace with a broad spectrum of exclusive applications unavailable on Apple’s App Store. EonHub offers an unlimited number of apps for download at no cost.
FtOS Store is a Vietnam-based 3rd party iOS app store that offers several thousand applications divided into six categories.
HipStore is a store for iOS 12 and above. Here, users have access to free applications, themes, screen recorders, and ringtones. All the data provided for downloads is secured with SSL encryption.
iOS Haven also supports the sideloading culture by offering 2000+ tweaked, modded, and converted apps. The platform has a powerful search engine for better discoverability, along with an impressive collection of themes and games. As a mature community, iOS Haven also authors a free blog for technophiles.
Mojo Installer encompasses four app categories and supports five languages. It features convenient Quick Search to roam around the apps and shows the download history. By the way, everything in the store is free as well.
Sileo used to be the alternative for the alternative app store Cydia; it supported more advanced iOS versions. Today, it works for iOS 12 and above on any 64-bit gadget. Users can download or purchase jailbreak applications without risking their smartphone security.
TopStore can be used via an app or a browser. Users around the world enjoy numerous tweaked apps without jailbreak and download themes via the store. The pro is that you won’t have to pay anything for the offerings.
TweakBox is a store that was created to let tweaked applications live. Some of them even offer extended functionalities. This alternative is famous not only for its accessibility and simplicity in usage but also for its security.
Xabsi is one of the leading App Store alternatives that allows users to access hacked applications, games, and jailbreak features. The platform also lists popular alternative app stores to ensure a richer selection of digital products, as well as offering system apps that enable users to customize the iOS file system. Xabsi is compatible with all iOS devices.
Zestia Step stands out from other alternative stores as it allows installing cracked apps in a fast and easy fashion.
Best Cross-Platform App Store Alternatives
Appland combines the features of an app installer with an app store manager for iOS and Android. It offers outstanding support for developers and encompasses numerous international markets. Among them are such remote locations as Panama, El Salvador, Myanmar, Malaysia, Oman, Indonesia, and many more.
CokerNutX’s million users around the globe have a chance to download about 5k applications. Among them, there are many tweaked ones. The platform’s leading feature is security, as the platform has adopted SSL encryption.
Itch.io boasts a wide choice of games; therefore, it targets gamers and game developers. It offers paid and free content, which isn’t limited to games only. Users can find books and development tools there, as well.
Mobile9 is comparable to a social network. With Mobile9, there is a high download rate, and this app store has one of the smallest percentages of active developers. Also, publishing an app on Mobile9 is free.
Mobilism is a great source of modded apps for all kinds of platforms, with over 300,000 applications and 600,000 e-books. The store caters to over 2 million users who can both publish and download mods, trending applications, and games for free.
MyAppFree is a personal advisor for mobile apps and games where users can discover and get one application for free daily. The app discovery platform boasts over 1.5 million users and is officially available on the App Store and Google Play. The marketplace has a “featured apps” section with exclusive deals on popular applications. Users can also win badges and prizes, collect stars, and climb the leaderboards based on their activity.
NexVa was built specifically for developers who want to control how their content is distributed among consumers. They offer a white-label product for mobile operators, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), and companies from multiple business verticals. The store works with affiliates to drive traffic via CPI and advertising solutions. There is also an application programming interface that supports in-app and subscription monetization through mobile money transactions.
Opera Mobile Store (Bemobi Mobile Store) has existed on the market for about a decade – since 2011. It is a browser-based alternative app store that takes 30% of all sales. Here, users can download as many premium apps as they want for a weekly subscription.
Panda Helper outperforms both Android and iOS by providing emulators, themes, and file managers that don’t exist in the two major stores. What is more, updates can be done right via the app.
TutuApp reaches more than 300 million users from different countries. You won’t struggle with app submission and will have access to various banking systems, as well as the cooperated SDK.
Best Chinese App Store Alternatives
China offers its users many alternative app stores. The most prominent store to consider is Tencent My App.
It takes up around 26% of the Android market in China, which makes the store the Mecca of alternative stores in the country. The app was developed by Tencent and is extremely favorable for developers: they can get certified, which isn’t always an option in the West.
Best Manufacturer-Specific App Store Alternatives
Xiaomi GetApps is the official app store from Xiaomi based on your interests. It employs security tools from Avast, Kingsoft, and Tencent for safe and secure app downloads. GetApps can be accessed using a Redmi, Poco, or Mi smartphone.
Huawei AppGallery is an official app store for Huawei devices. It offers applications of several categories, including games. Moreover, users can utilize official Huawei Cloud Storage.
However, Huawei AppGallery’s primary focus is on the Chinese market. Thus, most app names and descriptions are written in Chinese.
LG SmartWorld is an official LG store, which is pre-installed on LG devices. They run Android apps on mobile devices and LG smart TVs. The store sends you a reminder after each update, and it offers various themes for LG smartphone customization.
OPPO App Store is geared toward OPPO smartphone users. This one-stop store lists a large variety of high-quality applications, games, and themes published by OPPO developers. As this is an official store, all applications integrate perfectly with OPPO devices and are checked for malware and bugs.
Samsung Galaxy Store is the official Samsung app store that comes pre-installed on all Samsung devices. Due to this, Samsung has an immediate and significant customer base.
The Galaxy Store attracts developers by offering better profits and providing multiple themes and font customization for Samsung users.
VIVO App Market is an app distribution network for VIVO developers. The platform employs custom algorithms to enable developers to get relevant applications and games into the hands of users based on local customs and user characteristics. The distribution area spans South Asia and most countries in Southeast Asia, with key advantages in Indonesia.
How To Choose The Best App Store Among All?
After reading about all of these app stores, you might find yourself asking, “How am I supposed to choose from this huge list?”
The short answer is you aren’t. None of these free app markets can substitute Google Play and App Store. In most cases, they’re rather an extra channel to get more downloads.
However, it is important to note that Google Play and App Store may prove insufficient for technically-advanced users whose desires vary from mainstream users. In cases like this, these alternative app stores provide technically-advanced users with a platform.
Further, the main two stores imply heavy competition. Some developers might not be ready for this type of engagement. In this case, alternative stores can propose more beneficial opportunities to promote your app.
In the end, you should be aware of any security risks and do your research before using an app store. Also, make sure you set your priorities, know your target audience, and remember that filtering functions and offers from alternative stores can be useful. Take these factors into account, know your necessities and aspirations, and put your app store plan into motion!