Android’s biggest strength is its open-source nature. While power user customization can get quite complicated on Android, installing an APK file is a good example of something that doesn’t take a lot of effort.
APK files have been around since Android’s inception, and they’re quite easy to install. Installing an XAPK file, on the other hand, isn’t a very straightforward process. In this guide, we will go over what an XAPK file is, how it differs from a normal APK file, and finally, how you can install one.
What Is an XAPK File?
By the time you figure out what an APK file is, it gets quite difficult to wrap your head around the existence of yet another file format that fulfills the same purpose of installing an app on your phone.
The best way to understand what an XAPK file is, is to look at it as an archived file containing a traditional APK file and a folder with additional app data. Smaller apps can make do with a single APK file to hold all the data within, but larger apps and games require bigger APK files and folders to pack in the data.
Developers have adopted this approach to counter the 100 MB package file limit that has been imposed on all apps and games uploaded on the Google Play Store. You’ll find XAPK files on third-party app stores or elsewhere online, not on the Play Store.
To round it all up, an XAPK file consists of an APK file and an OBB file containing additional data. In some cases, certain XAPK files are also bundles containing more than one APK file, better known as Split APKs.
How Is an XAPK File Different From an APK File?
Although both the file types have the same end goal of installing a functional app, the way the Android operating system handles them is vastly different. To put it simply, your phone doesn’t know what to do with an XAPK file and sees it as yet another file extension that it cannot understand.
On the other hand, an APK file is instantly recognized by Android as an installation file and lets you sideload the app after being granted the required permissions.
So the next time you come across an app you badly want to sideload that’s in an XAPK format, know that you simply can’t install it using the default Android Package Installer.
How to Install an XAPK File (APK + OBB)
Fortunately, installing an XAPK file takes only a couple of extra steps. There are third-party app stores for Android that can do it for you in a jiffy, but we highly recommend against using app stores that aren’t the Play Store unless you are absolutely certain of their integrity.
We also only suggest you download APK or XAPK files from trusted websites to avoid being an open target.
1. Using a file manager application of your choice, locate the XAPK file you’ve just downloaded.
2. Long press on the file, tap on Rename, and change the file extension from XAPK to ZIP. For example, if the original file is named “app-name.xapk”, change it to “app-name.zip”.
3. Your phone should now recognize the file as a normal compressed folder. Long press on the file and extract it to a specified folder.
4. The extracted folder should contain an APK file, a folder named Android, and a PNG file which is not important.
5. Open the Android folder and you should see another folder within it. Copy this folder to Internal Storage > Android > OBB.
6. Once done, head back to the extracted folder and install the APK file as you would normally do—just tap on it. If prompted, allow the file manager to install apps from unknown sources.
For devices running Android 11 and higher, Google has made it quite difficult for third-party file managers to make changes inside the Data and OBB folders.
If you have been unable to copy the OBB folder using the file manager on your Android phone, you have one of two options. You can try using your stock file manager or the Files by Google app to move the OBB folder.
Or if this fails, you can connect your phone to a computer and move the files using File Explorer on Windows or Finder on macOS.
How to install a split APK file
A split APK file follows a different approach to installing an app than that of an XAPK file that comes bundled with an OBB folder. Developers often split the resources of an app into two APK files. The main file may contain the code necessary to run the app, while the other file may consist of libraries for a specific system architecture.
If the XAPK file you’ve extracted is a combination of two or more APK files, installing it won’t be as straightforward. A split APK installation requires a special tool that will do the job for you. We recommend Split APKs Installer.
Download: Split APKs Installer (SAI) (Free, in-app purchases)
To install an XAPK file containing split APKs:
- Open the Split APKs Installer app and tap on the Install APKs button.
- Pick either of the two file picker options and navigate to the folder where you’ve extracted the XAPK file.
- Choose the respective APK files and tap on Select.
- This will bring up a dialog box containing information about the Base and Configuration APKs that you have selected. Simply tap on Install.
- When prompted, tap the Allow from this source toggle to let the app install the APK.
That’s it! You should now have a fresh new app waiting for you in the app drawer.
How to Uninstall XAPK Files
In an event where you start noticing an app misbehave or ask for permissions that it clearly doesn’t need, we highly recommend you get rid of it.
You can uninstall an app either by heading to Settings > Apps & Notifications, selecting the app, and tapping the Uninstall button, or by simply long-pressing the app icon and dragging it towards the Uninstall label on your home screen. To be extra careful, you can manually delete the OBB folder to get rid of all traces of the app.
Enjoy Third-Party Apps in Moderation
As alluring as third-party apps can be, you should be extra wary of security and privacy while dealing with installations from unknown sources. Remove the app the instant you feel something off with your phone after installing it from a third-party source. Use Android’s growing security features to your advantage!