Can You Download or Install APK Files on iPhones? Things to Know First

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APK files are created by Google for Android. This is the extension used by apps on Android devices when you want to install them on your phone. You may wonder if these types of files can be downloaded or installed on iPhones.

As a general rule, you cannot download or install APK files on iPhones. APK files are entirely incompatible with iPhones, but there is more to know about how these extensions operate.

As an iPhone user, you won’t usually encounter APK files. This can change if you see an Android-exclusive app you want to use on an iPhone. If you want to know more about APK files and iPhones, read below.

Can You Download or Install APK Files on iPhones?

APK or the Android Package file format is the one used by Android operating systems. Files with this format are used to install apps and games on all Android devices.

The APK extension is exclusive to Android. APK files cannot be used on iPhones because they can only be read by devices with Android operating systems.

iPhones cannot read APK files, and there is no way to get around the incompatibility between devices.

You may find yourself wanting to download or install APK files on iPhones in some situations, but you should know more about how these different operating systems work.

This will help illustrate why APK files cannot be used on iPhones.

Things to Know First

When you consider downloading or installing APK files on iPhones, there are some things you should know first.

Here’s a quick overview of the information you should have when comparing these disparate elements:

What Are APK Files?

APK files were created by Google to use on Android operating systems. This file extension is a package format that contains all the essentials an Android app or game needs to run as it should.

APK files include manifest files, signatures, resources, native libraries, and many more elements that apps require to run smoothly on Android devices.

These files can be installed manually, but most times, you’ll just install them automatically through the Play Store whenever you wish to have a new app or game.

How Do APK Files Work?

Those in the know will know that APK files are very similar to JAR files. This is due to Android being built to work with Java.

APK files operate just like ZIP files, and they are used similarly by operating systems.

They contain information that is essential for apps to run, so they go even further than ZIP files when it comes to how much data they contain.

This is why you are able to unzip APK files on your computer to investigate what these packages carry within them.

You can use any unzipping tool in Windows to open these files on the desktop, which will allow you to see exactly how they run on Android.

No matter what type of APK file you are looking at, you will see all its essential information included in this package.

What Is the iOS Equivalent of APK Files?

You may wonder what iOS uses instead of APK files, considering how incompatible APK files are on iPhones.

The iOS equivalent of APK files is IPA files. Each IPA file contains a binary that can only be installed on iPhones and iPads using compatible iOS systems.

You can also convert IPA files to be able to unzip them and look at the packages they contain.

All the information needed for iOS apps or games will be found in the ‘payload’ folder of the package.

IPA files can also be used on Mac OS but are generally only compatible with ARM-based systems. This means that IPA files are as incompatible with Android as APK files are with iOS.

How to Get APK Files on iPhones

You might see an APK file that you won’t immediately find on the iOS App Store.

In this case, you may feel tempted to download or install APK files on iPhones, but this cannot be done without fully jailbreaking your phone.

This is not an advisable course of action, especially with modern iPhones.

If you must get APK files, the only way to download or install them without hassle is to find the IPA equivalent.

Once found, you can install IPA files on an iPhone even if they are not available in the App Store. Here’s how to do it:

  • Download the IPA equivalent of whichever APK files you want to install.
  • Install an app that will allow you to sign in to your Apple account during the process.
  • Connect your iOS device to a Windows or Mac desktop or laptop.
  • Launch the app you installed earlier.
  • Paste the IPA files into the app.
  • Sign in to your Apple ID.


You cannot download or install APK files on iPhones due to the incompatibility between the two. The only way to get around this issue is to find the IPA equivalent of the APK files you need and then download and install those onto the iPhone.

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