Google’s Play Store is where most Android users shop for new apps. If you’re new to Android, you might not even realize there are other—and in some cases, better—options.
Here are three Google Play Store alternatives I recommend.
* Amazon Appstore for Android. You don’t have to own a Kindle Fire to download apps to an Android device from Amazon’s Appstore. To install Amazon's Appstore on your Android, however, you'll need to take a few extra steps, such as ensuring your device can download from "unknown sources."
How you set that up can depend on your Android device. On my Samsung Galaxy Note, for instance, I went into Settings > Security > Device administration and checked "Unknown sources." (Business Insider recently posted a video showing how to install Amazon Appstore on non-Amazon Android devices.)
Why bother with Amazon’s Appstore? Though it is more limited than Google’s Play Store in terms of available apps, Amazon offers paid apps for free every day, many of which are games. You might also find some discounts on apps you wouldn’t find elsewhere.
* Tablified Market. Tablified is available in the Google Play Store, and it does a far better job than Google of showcasing Android tablet-optimized apps. The $2 Pro version doesn't have ads, it lets you sort every category by free and paid apps, and you can search by rating and more. It’s worth the upgrade price, especially if you’ve just invested in a new Android tablet and want to zero in on tablet apps. (For more about Tablified, read my review "Looking for Android Tablet Apps? Get Tablified.")
* AppBrain is another free app you can download from the Google Play Store. Along with showcasing new and hot apps of the day, AppBrain scans the apps on your device, then gives you solid recommendations (at least in my case) on other apps you might like.
There are additional alternative app stores for Android including SlideME and GetJar, both of which are worth a look. Beware, though, that allowing downloads from “unknown sources,” and downloading apps from alternative app stores in general, may put your Android device at risk. Then again, downloading apps from Google's Play Store isn’t 100 percent safe either.
If you plan to download lots of apps, install a trustworthy security app. In my experience, TrustGo’s Antivirus & Mobile Security app does a good job of scanning app downloads and warning of potential threats—and it’s free.