Google Play is the leader among digital distribution services thanks to its over 52.3 billion downloads in H1 2020 and 3.04 million available applications. The next one in line is Apple’s App Store, with 1.82 million offered apps and 18.3 billion downloads in H1 2020. So if you’re planning to make another app, then the choice for uploading your app to the Google Play and App Store store seems obvious, right? Well, yes and no.
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 for free 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.
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 alternative 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.
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.
A1 Apps Store Market offers millions of apps with detailed descriptions, and this app store lets you set notifications for upcoming apps based on your interests. You can also block specific categories, e.g., games, from showing up in your search results.
ACMarket was designed specifically for cracked, hacked, or modified apps. It’s one of the biggest unofficial app stores 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. Here, you can find multiple variations of the same app. This app store lets you download and store apps as APKs, meaning you need to visit its 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.
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.
Appszoom reaches a global audience of over 3 million users a month. This app store option offers premium profiles to app developers that allow them to gain more app awareness. It also ensures protection from malware, improves UX, and tests 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.
CodeNgo is a self-publishing service that helps Android app developers and publishers get their apps in more app stores.
F-Droid is one of the top alternative app stores. This app store focus is 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.
Related: Full Guide on How to Build an MVP
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.
Mobango has a relatively small app, but it’s completely free, and no percentage is taken from developers.
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.
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.
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 for most of the apps Uptodown offers.
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
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 the iOS versions from 9 to 13 and offers some apps that can’t be found in the original iOS App Store.
AppValley is a store 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.
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.
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 9 and above. Users have access to free applications, themes, screen recorders, and ringtones. All the data provided for downloads is secured with SSL encryption.
iNoJB can be added to the list of mobile app stores that don’t require either jailbreak or a Mac for download. However, downloading the iNoJB app isn’t even necessary since users can get the apps via a browser.
iPA4iOS, together with numerous other alternatives, doesn’t need a jailbreak to use it. All the content is free, including unofficial gaming apps. Users can safely enjoy the store as it implements the SSL security.
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 11 and above on any 64-bit gadget. Users can download or purchase jailbreak applications without risking their smartphone security.
TopStore App 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.
Tweak Box 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.
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.
Asterix Installer operates with iOS and Android and offers the users shortcuts, themes, and applications, including tweaked ones for iOS devices. The store is safe and can be installed even without an Apple ID.
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.
Kongregate is another store that focuses on games and entertainment. However, this store only offers video games for the mobile web.
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.
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 the 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. Opera Mobile Store gets more than 105 million visits per month.
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 MyApp.
It takes up around 26% of the Android market in China, which makes the store the Mecca of the 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
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.
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.
Sony Apps is designed for people using Sony mobile devices. This app store’s primary focus is on entertainment. Here, you can earn points doing the things you love, like watching movies and playing games, to get the latest and greatest Sony products.
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!