Can I Get Apps Not In the App Store?

Get apps not in the App Store
There are multiple ways to get apps from outside the App Store. image credit: Stuart Kinlough/Ikon Images/Getty Images

The App Store offers tens of thousands of amazing apps, but not every iPhone app is available there. Apple puts restrictions and guidelines on the apps submitted by developers. That means that some good apps that don't follow those rules aren't available there.

This situation leads to people looking to find out how to get apps that are not in the App Store. There are ways to do this, but exactly how you do it depends on what you want to do.

You can get apps that are in the App Store for free without using the App Store for free, but you shouldn't do it. You'll find out why at the end of the article.

On the other hand, if you’re willing to take a few risks and use apps not approved by Apple, there are some app you can download without using the App Store.

Sideloading Apps 

Maybe the simplest way to add apps to your iPhone without using the App Store is by using a technique called sideloading. Sideloading is the name used for installing apps directly on the iPhone rather than using the App Store. It's not a common way to do things, but it's certainly possible.   

The real difficulty with sideloading is that you need to be able to get the app in the first place. Most apps are only available in the App Store, not for direct download. But if the one you want to use can be found that way, you're good to go.

To find out how to sideload apps on the iPhone, read this article (that article is technically about how to install apps removed from the App Store, but the instructions still apply).

Jailbroken iPhones: Legal Apps

Apple's tight controls on the App Store also apply to the iPhone. Some people remove those controls by jailbreaking their phones. Among the things that this allows is for people with jailbroken iPhones to install apps not available in the App Store.

These apps aren’t in the App Store for various reasons: quality, legality, security, doing things that Apple wants to prevent for one reason or another.

But if you have a jailbroken iPhone, there's an alternative App Store: Cydia. Cydia is full of free and paid apps that aren't in the App Store and let you do all sorts of cool things.

Before you run out to jailbreak your phone and install Cydia, it's important to remember that jailbreaking can mess up your phone and expose it to security problems. Apple doesn’t provide support for jailbroken phones, so make sure you understand and accept the risks before you dive into jailbreaking.

RELATED: All About Cydia

Jailbroken iPhones: Pirated Apps

The other reason that people jailbreak their phones is that it can allow them to get paid apps for free, without using the App Store. It should go without saying that doing this is piracy, which is both illegal and morally wrong. While some app developers are big companies, the vast majority of developers are small companies or single programmers who rely on the money earned from their apps to pay their expenses and enable further development.

Pirating apps takes hard-earned money from developers. While jailbreaking and pirating apps is a way to download apps without the App Store, you simply shouldn't do it.