Android Basics: Installing apps from the Play Store

You’re not limited to the apps that come with your Android smartphone or tablet. Google Play, also known as the Play Store, is an app store that provides easy access to millions of free and paid apps. It’s linked to the Google account you’ve used to sign into your device, meaning that any apps or media you download can be accessed from different devices if you get a new phone or tablet.

Browsing the Play Store

To launch the Play Store, go to the apps menu and tap on its icon to launch it. You may already have an icon on the home screen you can use, as well. The current icon for the Play Store is pictured above.

The Play Store’s home page displays apps and games that are popular or otherwise recommended based on what you’ve installed in the past. You can find different types of media on Google Play in addition to just apps—movies, music, and other categories are available at the top of the home page.

To search for an app, tap the white bar at the top of the screen and begin typing the name of an app. As you type, you’ll see search suggestions and sometimes a link to the app you’re searching for, which you can tap to go directly to the app’s store listing page. Otherwise, press the search button on the keyboard, then tap one of the search results.

Installing apps

Before you install the app, review the information on its store listing page. Pay special attention to the publisher’s name (found at the top under the name of the app) and number of downloads—there have been instances where malicious “lookalike” apps have masqueraded as legitimate apps. If you’re trying to install a popular app like Facebook or Twitter but it only lists several thousand downloads, that’s a clear indication that you could be encountering a scam.

Tap Read More to see the app developer’s description of the app, which often contains useful information. You can also view screenshots of what the app looks like in action. Scroll down the page to check out user reviews, which can be helpful in determining an app’s quality and can help you spot potential problems other users have experienced.

Also be sure to check out the app’s permissions by tapping Permission details at the very bottom of the page. Permissions are special abilities granted to an app that let it access different parts of your device and other information.  If you see an app requesting lots of permissions, consider checking out the app developer’s website and/or privacy policy to make sure the permissions aren’t being misused.

Once you’re ready to install the app, press Install at the top of the page. When the app is done downloading and being installed, you’ll have the option to Open or Uninstall the app from this page. When you return to the home screen, an icon will automatically be added for the new app.

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