Although Apple and Google stores are undoubtedly the most used and famous, this does not imply that they are the only ones, there are alternative App Stores.

In addition, it may happen that on so-called alternative app stores you can have more choice and find software and versions of very interesting games.

However, many people are afraid to download apps and Apk files (Android packaging) from stores and sites other than official ones, because they believe they can contain malware and therefore less secure.

Panda Security at a time when curiosity and quarantine boredom could lead many users to be tempted by alternative store

First of all, it is good to know that, in addition to alternative app stores, you can install apps on your device directly from online sites accessible through the normal Internet browsers. To install a externally sourced apk file, once downloaded, you must authorize the installation in the settings and allow it to work because both the Android and iOS system do not recognize the app as downloaded from an authorized source. It is a more risky process than alternative channels: if you are not familiar with the data source and who is responsible for development, it is desirable to avoid this mode.

Instead, the apps of alternative stores cannot be found on traditional channels, but you have to download them from the developer’s sites. Here is the list written by Panda Security of alternative stores at Google Play, highlighting the strengths of each portal:

Aptoide: safe, supplied and available for both mobile and TV-Box.

: safe, supplied and available for both mobile and TV-Box. Fdroid: open-source project, just like the software it publishes.

: open-source project, just like the software it publishes. Uptodown: interface in Italian, many free apps, good security system.

: interface in Italian, many free apps, good security system. Amazon App Store: advantageous for those who use Amazon Coins, Amazon’s virtual coin.

: advantageous for Amazon Coins users, Amazon’s virtual currency. APKPure: Reliable, has a great interface and offers user rankings and reviews.

: Reliable, has an excellent interface and offers user rankings and reviews. APKMirror: APKPure is one of two large portals to download APK from. Complete and reliable, these services have nothing to envy Google Play.

: APKPure is one of two large portals from which to download APK. Complete and reliable, these services have nothing to envy Google Play. SlideME, an independent Android app marketplace dedicated to accessibility. The highlight of SlideME is the selection and approval process that all apps are submitted to before being published.

For iOS users, until recently they needed the Jailbreak of their device, but today they can install these stores without doing it. In addition, Panda Security does not recommend using this practice as it is potentially harmful to the security of iOS devices.

Here is a short selection of alternative iOS markets:

AppValley: free apps, unofficial content and modified versions of apps and games (so-called MODs).

: Free apps, unofficial content and modified versions of apps and games (so-called MODs). TweakBox: an app store dedicated mainly to alternative apps, content not approved by Apple and optimized and modified versions of apps.

: an app store dedicated mainly to alternative apps, content not approved by Apple and optimized and modified versions of apps. Ipa4ios: alternative app store mainly dedicated to app++ and optimized versions.

: Alternative app store mainly dedicated to app++ and optimized versions. Tutuapp (also available for Android): an alternative network for developers and users, which tries to break down geographical barriers that limit the spread of apps on a global scale.

It should be noted that Google Play and App Store have security systems and monitoring of the capillaries and powerful malware, which the alternative stores do not enjoy. However, it is not the store’s security that worries more but the security of the apps that we find available.

Panda Security recommends these security measures to limit the dangers of an app downloaded in an alternative store:

Check the source (official, known or not) and search for information online.

See if the app has been verified/approved by the app store (most stores now check all apps before publishing them).

Launch and update your antivirus periodically.

After downloading the app and before installing it, scan the file with an antivirus (such as Panda Antivirus for Android).

After installing unknown apps, keep your device under control for some time and if you notice strange behaviors (slowness, performance decrease or battery life and so on), try to uninstall it.

Alternative app stores are almost as secure as the two giants of Google and Apple, and also offer access to a world of unofficial apps and versions that for many are the real soul of the Internet. As always, when you take alternative paths, you just need to be informed not to expose yourself to the risks of the network.

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