One unique advantage of Android is the openness of the platform. While there is the regulated Android Market for downloading quality apps, this isn’t the only source (unlike the App Store on the iOS ecosystem). Though, true, the Android Market is also regulated and curated by Google and there is very little risk of users being ripped off by spurious apps.
We can download apps from third party sources or homebrew apps by way of sideloading. Sideloading lets you copy apps to the memory card and install them directly, bypassing the Android Market. Easy Installer is an app that helps you install apps from the SD card without any hassles. Follow me after the fold to take a look at the functionalities of the app.
Easy Installer helps you to install apps from apk files stored in your SD card. Yep, that’s all it does! Wondering why don’t you just use a file explorer, locate the apk file and install it yourself? Easy Installer saves you all the steps of painfully sifting through a bunch of folders and then manually installing it. Even better, it can install multiple apps at once, without you having to select each one and install it in turn — very useful if you’ve downloaded a lot of non-Market apps, or are restoring apps from an earlier backup.
Ease of Use
Before launching the app, copy as many apk files as you please to the SD card. If you really want to know the usefulness of the app, take some time and copy one apk per folder and bury them within subfolders. Now as soon as you launch the app, without the need to do anything at all, all the apk files will be displayed, irrespective of their location.
List of apk Files & Installation Screen
Since the new look Android Market isn’t available in my region yet, I downloaded the apk file from a trusted source and copied it to the SD card. The PowerAMP apk file was a review copy and I wasn’t even aware that there was an apk format backup available in the memory card.
Choose all the apk files you would like to get installed in your mobile and hit Install Selected Apps. In one single go, all the selected apps will be installed one after another. After installation, you can choose to open the installed apps or stay in Easy Installer. If you access an app you just installed, then after exiting it you will be taken back to the Easy Installer screen.
Searching and Sorting
Have a whole lot of apk files in your SD card and aren’t able to locate the right one? Try the search box at the top to find the ones you are looking for. This is useful, but it would have been even better if the developers had incorporated an auto suggest feature that lists apps as soon as you type the alphabets in the search box.
Searching & Sorting
Another interesting feature is the extensive sorting options presented to you. I haven’t seen so many sorting options in any app in the recent past (except maybe in Excel)! You can sort apps based on their name, size and date – both in ascending and descending orders. This one might not be a feature that would be used by many, but is a really useful one to have nonetheless.
Installation isn’t the only action that can be executed in batch. If you want to delete multiple apk files to free up some space in the memory card, then select them all and tap the Delete option from the menu to purge them all.
Settings Screen & Clearing Cache
Easy Installer indexes all the apk files in the memory card in its cache as soon as you mount the card. However, if you couldn’t locate an apk file you are sure to exist in the card, try clearing the cache from the Settings screen. After clearing the cache, restart the app and it will rescan the SD card all over again and rebuild the cache of apk files to install.
Easy Installer is one awesome freeware app. The app reminded me of the good old Symbian days (which are long gone), when people had the freedom of installing whatever they please without being under the clutches of a draconian app review process. Sure, Easy Installer is a single-purpose app, but it does its job fabulously.
Despite my overall satisfactory experience with the app, I did have some hitches. First is the very distracting ad panel at the bottom of the screen: I am all for the developers to make some money, but if you have a lot apk files stored in the memory card, at times you might end up clicking on the ad instead of the app.
Second, I couldn’t find a couple of features mentioned in the Android Market page of the app. Prominent among these was the ability to share the app via email with friends; instead, I could find only an option to mail a feedback to the dev team. Another notable one was the absence of searching the Android Market for apps; I searched with the names of existing and non existing apps (in the SD card) but couldn’t find any results from the Android Market.
Disclaimer: Sideloading and apps like Easy Installer that facilitate the process are available in Android to foster openness and innovation. Downloading and installing pirated apk files will hurt the developer and will end up hurting the Android ecosystem. Moreover, there is a very good chance that you will be exposed to malware stealing identity information if you download apk files from unverified sources. Exercise caution and think twice before you install apk files that look suspicious.