apk (file format)-Wikipedia

apk (file format)

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File format for Android software

APK format icon (2014-2019).png

Filename extension

.apk, .xapk, .apks, .apkm

Internet media type

Type of format

Package format

Container for



Mobile apps

Windows 11


Desktop apps



Extended from


The Android Package with the file extension apk


is the

file format

used by the

Android operating system

, and a number of other Android-based operating systems for distribution and installation of

mobile apps


mobile games



. It can be written in either





APK files can be generated and signed from

Android App Bundles



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APK is analogous to other

software packages

such as



Microsoft Windows

or a

Debian package



-based operating systems. To make an APK file, a program for Android is first compiled using a tool such as

Android Studio



Visual Studio

and then all of its parts are packaged into one container file. An APK file contains all of a program’s code (such as


files), resources, assets, certificates, and

manifest file

. As is the case with many file formats, APK files can have any name needed, but it may be required that the file name ends in the file extension for being recognized as such.




Most Android implementations allow users to manually install APK files only after they turn on an “Unknown Sources” setting that allows installation from sources other than trusted ones like

Google Play

. One may do so for many reasons, such as during the development of apps, to install apps not found on the store, or to install an older version of an existing app.



Use on other operating systems[



At the

Windows 11

announcement event in June 2021,


showcased the new

Windows Subsystem for Android

(WSA) that will enable support for the

Android Open Source Project

(AOSP) and will allow users to run

Android apps

on their Windows desktop. Microsoft confirmed users will be able to sideload Android apps onto Windows and that it would be possible to install APK files downloaded from third-party sources.


Users were not able to use WSA when the OS launched, but it is currently[


] being tested with Windows Insiders in the United States.[

citation needed


Google plans to introduce its own way to run Android apps on Windows some time in 2022.


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Package contents[



An APK file is an


that usually contains the following files and directories:

  • META-INF directory:
    • MANIFEST.MF: the

      Manifest file

    • The certificate of the application.
    • CERT.SF: The list of resources and a



      of the corresponding lines in the MANIFEST.MF file; for example:

      Signature-Version: 1.0 Created-By: 1.0 (Android) SHA1-Digest-Manifest: wxqnEAI0UA5nO5QJ8CGMwjkGGWE= ... Name: res/layout/exchange_component_back_bottom.xml SHA1-Digest: eACjMjESj7Zkf0cBFTZ0nqWrt7w= Name: res/drawable-hdpi/icon.png SHA1-Digest: DGEqylP8W0n0iV/ZzBx3MW0WGCA= 
  • lib: the directory containing the compiled code that is platform dependent; the directory is split into more directories within it:
    • armeabi-v7a: compiled code for all


      and above based processors only

    • arm64-v8a: compiled code for all


      arm64 and above based processors only


    • x86: compiled code for


      processors only

    • x86_64: compiled code for


      processors only

    • mips and armeabi, deprecated since NDK r17



  • res: the directory containing resources not compiled into resources.arsc (see below).
  • assets: a directory containing applications assets, which can be retrieved by AssetManager.
  • AndroidManifest.xml: An additional Android manifest file, describing the name, version, access rights, referenced library files for the application. This file may be in Android

    binary XML

    that can be converted into human-readable plaintext XML with tools such as AXMLPrinter2, Apktool M, or Androguard.

  • classes.dex: The classes compiled in the

    dex file format

    executed by

    Android Runtime

    (or by

    Dalvik virtual machine

    used in

    Android 4.4 KitKat


  • resources.arsc: a file containing precompiled resources, such as binary XML for example.

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See also[



  • Android software development

  • .ipa

  • Java Programming Language




  1. ^

    “Application Fundamentals”

    . Android Developers. Retrieved 2018-12-03.

  2. ^

    Peters, Jay (2021-06-30).

    “Google is moving away from APKs on the Play Store”

    . The Verge. Retrieved 2021-08-15.

  3. ^

    “Application Studio”

    . Android Developers.

  4. ^

    “Inside the Android Application Framework”

    (video). Google Sites. 2008.

  5. ^

    Hatem Ben Yacoub (20 April 2018).

    “Tips: How to install apk files on Android Emulator”

    . Open Ha Magazine. Archived from

    the original

    on 2012-05-26. Retrieved 2021-07-17.

  6. ^

    “The Structure of Android Package (APK) Files”

    . OPhone SDN. OPhone Software Developer Network. 17 November 2010. Archived from

    the original

    on 8 February 2011.

  7. ^

    “Unknown Sources: Everything you need to know!”

    . Android Central. 27 July 2018.

  8. ^

    “APK File Extension – What APK File is and How to open it?”

    . Tips Overflow. Retrieved 2021-11-12.

  9. ^

    Parmar, Mayank (2021-06-27).

    “Microsoft confirms Android apps will run on all Windows 11 PCs”

    . Windows Latest. Retrieved 2021-06-28.

  10. ^

    Warren, Tom (2021-12-09).

    “Google is bringing Android games to Windows in 2022”

    . The Verge. Retrieved 2021-12-13.

  11. ^

    “ABI Management | Android Developers”

    . Retrieved 16 June 2018.

  12. ^

    “Android ABIs | Android NDK”

    . Android Developers. Retrieved 2020-08-14. Note: Historically the NDK supported ARMv5 (armeabi), and 32-bit and 64-bit


    , but support for these ABIs was removed in NDK r17.

  13. ^

    Dan, Albert (Sep 5, 2018).

    “Changelog r17”

    . GitHub. Retrieved 2020-08-14. Support for ARMv5 (armeabi), MIPS, and MIPS64 has been removed. Attempting to build any of these


    will result in an error.

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