How to install Google Play apps on your Android device, from a web browser
Every Android user knows the simplest way to install an app on his or her Android powered device. Basically, you just have to open the Play Store app, search for the app you want and tap Install. But what if we told you there’s another way of installing an app from the Play Store? One that is embraced by the more desktop-oriented users among us? Well, there actually is another way and that is with the help of the Play Store website. Today we’ll teach you how to install your apps using this approach.
NOTE: For the purpose of this tutorial, we used a Google Nexus 5 device running Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. The procedures are similar on all Android powered devices, so you should be good to go even if you're running a different version of Android on your device.
Preparing the environment
So you already know how important apps are to the Android ecosystem. Without apps, there’s no Android to begin with. In previous tutorials, we showed you the most simple way of installing apps: by using the Play Store *app* on your Android device (see what we did here?).
The first thing we’ll do in this tutorial is to actually load the Google Play Store website. Open your favorite web browser and go to this URL: play.google.com. When first loaded, the Play Store website looks like this:
In order for you to be able to install apps to your Android device, you need to sign in to Google services by using the same Google account you have set up on your Android device (we’ve talked about how to set up a Google account on your Android device in this tutorial ). Click or tap the Sign in button from the top-right corner of the screen and input your credentials to sign in.
Once you are signed in, the top-right corner of the screen should inform you about the user currently signed in. Double check that you signed in with the same account you’re using on your Android device, otherwise you won’t be able to install apps on your device using this method!
Finding and installing apps
Once you finished the sign-in process, you are ready to start installing your apps. For this tutorial, we’ll install the Google Photos app by using the web browser method.
Locate the Search input field at the top-center of the screen and type the name of the app you want to install.
As you can see, while you are typing, the system identifies the most popular search terms that match the letters you’ve already written. Click or tap on the Search button (the one with the magnifying glass on it) or just hit the Enter key to search for your keywords.
If the app you are searching for has been found and appears among the first top results, simply click or tap on it to open its details page in the Play Store. Otherwise, you can refine your search terms or click/tap on See more to get the complete search results list. Since we found our app on the first try, we’ll click/tap on the Google Photos app to get to its page.
The app’s page shows the main icon of the app on the left, with the name, developer and category aligned to it. You can also check the app’s rating, based on the users’ feedback, and how many reviews there are for the app.
There’s also a carousel with images of the app in action. If you have your Google account set on more than one device , the Play Store also informs you with which of them the app is compatible - a very useful feature. Scroll the page down to see more information.
Every app has a text description of what it has to offer. If the text is too long, it will probably be trimmed, but you can click or tap on the Read More link to see the whole description. Below the description, there’s the Reviews section. Further down, you’ll find the technical specifications of the app, like the date of its last update, the number of times it was installed so far, the minimum required version of Android and the developer details. The last section of the app’s page is the Similar section, which lists other apps from the Play Store that offer more or less the same features as the app you are currently viewing.
To install the app, return to the top of the app’s page and click or tap on the Install button. Then, if you have the same Google account set up on multiple Android devices, you will be asked on which device you want to install the app on. You will also see a list with the permissions the app requires in order for it to run properly.
Once you agree to grant the app the permissions it needs and selected the device you want to install it on, click on the Install button to install it. A few seconds later, if everything worked well, a success popup dialog appears, informing you that the app will be installed to your device as soon as possible.
You can now go to your device and check that the app has been successfully installed. Provided your device is connected to the Internet, the process shouldn’t take more than a few seconds.
Congratulations! You’ve learned a new way of installing apps on your Android devices!
While some of the users are feeling right at home with their Android smartphone in their hands, there are other users who prefer their desktop computer, with a full-sized physical keyboard and mouse rather than a 5 or 6 inch touch screen. Let’s face it, typing on your smartphone is nowhere near as comfortable as sitting in front of your computer and typing on a physical keyboard. And that’s why some users prefer an approach like this, that feels more convenient to typing text on their smartphones. On top of that, we admit, installing apps on your smartphone without even touching it, is pretty neat, right?