What is sideloading?

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What is sideloading?

Sideloading refers to the process of installing apps or software on a device from sources outside of official app stores or mainstream distribution platforms.

How does sideloading work?

Sideloading involves bypassing official app stores and acquiring an app installation file (typically APK for Android, IPA for iOS) from a website, email, or file-sharing service.  The user then manually installs this file onto their device.

Types of sideloading:

  • Android: Installing Android apps using APK files.
  • iOS:¬†Installing iOS apps using IPA files via tools like Cydia Impactor or AltStore.
  • PC: Installing software on a PC from sources other than the official store.

How to measure sideloading:

The success of sideloading can be measured by tracking the number of installs, user engagement, and any security issues that arise from sideloaded apps.

Why is sideloading important to marketers?

As a complement to traditional app store strategies, sideloading provides marketers with alternative channels for app distribution and user engagement.

  • Expanded reach: Marketers can reach users who do not have access to official app stores or prefer alternative sources. This is particularly relevant in regions where certain app stores are not available.
  • Testing and feedback: Marketers can distribute beta versions of their apps to a select group of users for testing and feedback before an official release.
  • Bypassing restrictions: Marketers can distribute apps that may not comply with the strict guidelines of official app stores, enabling them to offer unique features or content.
  • Direct engagement: Sideloading enables direct distribution of apps to users, allowing marketers to establish a relationship with their audience without intermediaries.
  • Customization: Marketers can offer customized or specialized versions of their apps to specific audiences through sideloading, catering to niche markets.

While sideloading offers a variety of benefits to marketers, it also presents some challenges.

  • Lost revenue: Sideloaded apps bypass official app store payment systems, potentially leading to lost revenue from in-app purchases or subscriptions.
  • Engagement tracking difficulties: Marketers may have limited insight into user behavior and engagement for sideloaded apps.
  • Brand reputation risk: Malware or security vulnerabilities in sideloaded apps could be associated with the brand, damaging user trust.

Who needs to know what sideloading is:

  • App marketing manager
  • User acquisition manager
  • Performance marketing manager
  • App developer
  • Digital marketing manager
  • Marketing analyst

Use sideloading in a sentence:

“Due to the restrictions of the official App Store, we decided to offer our app for sideloading to reach a wider audience.”