Android application package (apk) is the package file format used by the Android operating system for distribution and installation of mobile apps and middleware.
APK files are analogous to other software packages such as APPX in Microsoft Windows or Deb packages in Debian-based operating systems like Ubuntu. To make an APK file, a program for Android is first compiled, and then all of its parts are packaged into one file. An APK file contains all of that program's code (such as .dex files), resources, assets, certificates, and manifest file. As is the case with many file formats, APK files can have any name needed, provided that the file name ends in ".apk".
APK files are a type of archive file, specifically in zip format packages based on the JAR file format, with .apk as the filename extension. The MIME type associated with APK files is application/vnd.android.package-archive.
APK files can be installed on Android powered devices just like installing software on PC. When a user downloads and installs an Android application from either an official source (such as Google Play), or from some other (unofficial) site, they are installing an APK file on their device. A user or developer can also install an APK file directly to a device (that is, not via download from the network) from a desktop computer, using a communication program such as adb, or from within a file manager app in a process known as sideloading. By default, the ability to install from unofficial sites or directly from a desktop or file manager is disabled for security reasons on most Android devices. Users can enable it by changing the setting "Unknown sources" in the Settings menu.