Unlike operating systems like Apple’s iOS, Google permits to install apps from third party sources on its Android OS. Users of Android can even download apps from the websites of individual app developers. Several online stores are now available to download apps for the Android OS other than the official Play Store. A big advantage of downloading apps from these third party app stores is that lots of niche apps specially developed for a country, specific mobile telecom operators or a specific device manufacturers are available in them. Many of the apps available on these stores are also not available on the official Google Play Stores or anywhere else.
Below are some of the top app stores for Android OS in India:
The Amazon Appstore is one of the most popular alternatives to the Play Store for downloading Android Apps. Even though the access to the App store was limited to a few countries initially, Amazon has expanded its Appstore to nearly 200 countries including India in May, 2013. Amazon Appstore has several advantages over the Play Store. It frequently offers some of the premium apps available in its store for free or at a big discount. It is also possible to download a test version of paid app before paying the full price for it. One major problem with the Amazon Appstore is that it doesn’t permit returning the apps to it after purchase (Play Store allows returning of apps within 15 minutes of the purchase).
Airtel App Central is a popular app store for downloading Android apps for the customers of the telecom service provider. Airtel App Central has nearly 1,00,000 apps across a variety of categories. Many of them are exclusively developed for the customers of Airtel and hence not available elsewhere. Both free and paid apps are availalble for download. The interface of the store is poor and needs lot of improvement. Airtel App Central is a good options for people looking for India specific apps not available anywhere else. Apart from Android apps, apps for other operating systems including the Java OS used in ultra budget handset are also available in Airtel App Central.
HCL SlideME Appstore is a special app store for the Android tablets manufactured by HCL. The store is maintained by SlideME, the provider of ‘managed Apstores’ for device manufacturers and developers around the world. SlideME is the biggest store for Android apps in the world after the Google’s Play Store. Lot of apps available on the HCL SlideME Appstore are not available elsewhere and are only meant for the Android based devices manufactured by HCL. Many of the tablets manufactured by HCL don’t have access to the Play Store and the users are forced to download apps from the HCL SlideME Appstore. As it is meant for a specific device manufacturer, the number of apps available are very limited.
Micromax Apps Store
Micromax Apps Store is an exclusive app store which showcases Android apps for the phones and tablets manufactured by Micromax. Interface of the store is very fluid without any glitches. The store has apps belonging to a variety of categories ranging from movies to games. But a majority of them are education apps specifically developed for the education tablets (Edu Tab series) of Micromax.
It is safe to download Apps available on the above stores as they are properly scanned for malware. Remember that you need to check the ‘Unknown Sources’ by following the Settings → Applications→ Unknown Sources path to install apps from any other sources than the official Google Play Store.