How to install Google Apps (GApps) on your Android Device / Phone

Google’s Android OS has often been touted as open – this is true to a large extent. Android is based on a modified Linux kernel, with it’s own Java interpreter and libraries, and Google has released the majority of Android code to the world as the “Android Open Source Project” under the Apache license. What this means is that anybody can download the Android OS, install it on a device of their choosing, and run Android, without having to pay any costs to Google. However, there are a selection of proprietary Google Applications within Android which are not included within this distribution: these are only available to Google’s partners within the Open Handset Alliance (generally technology manufacturers who develop branded devices and work together to develop the platform). This guide will explain how to install these applications on your device.

This may possibly be due to Google wanting to protect the code within these applications (which are based tightly around their core technologies), and/or wanting to preserve the user experience by only associating the Google branding / applications with known partners and companies (for example, one of the requirements of OHA devices is a Google logo printed on it). It’s important to note that this stage why this is the case and clarify some important distinctions. First off, Google does not make phones, it’s partner’s make the phones, so Google does not generate an income stream from the open-source Android. It is however, in their best interest to distribute Android as widely as possible, because their actual income stream (advertising revenue from searches, paid placements, etc) is increasingly coming from mobile devices. Since Android is so closely intertwined with Google’s services (including their search services of course), simply put: the more people using the free Android, the more money Google can make. More importantly, on an ONGOING basis, rather than a once off. Contrast this with hardware manufacturers like Apple, who’s profit primary comes from hardware sales (and very profitable it is as well).

Just what are we talking about here?

So how does this affect us? It generally doesn’t, as the device you purchase should already have the Google Apps loaded onto it. Users will blissfully go about their activities without having to think if the software they are using is open or proprietary. However, if you are of the tinkering type and have experimented with loading various ROMs onto your device, OR you have purchased a non-OHA device (generic or low-end devices often are not OHA certified), then these applications will be notably missing.

You are probably wondering at this stage, what is this Google Apps thing, and what does it affect? It includes applications which people have come to associate with Android devices, such as the GMail application, Google Maps, Navigation, Google Talk, Car Dock, Google Account Syncing (including Picasa / Contact / Calendar sync), Google Voice, Street View, Youtube, Voice Search as well as the big kahuna, the official Android Marketplace. Pretty much all the good stuff on Android devices. You can still install and run Android without these devices and everything works fine, but it’s not quite the same if you are used to these applications. Note that recently, Google has released the Youtube and Maps apps onto the market, facilitating more direct updates to the end user. If this is an easier option for you, just grab those off the market.

So how do we fix it?

Good question. Fortunately, there are ways around this: There are generally little restrictions on the user loading their own applications onto devices (unless you have a side-locked device from a carrier, in which case, that’s a carrier-caused issue and something you’ll have to figure out on your own). Kind souls have packaged the above mentioned Google Apps into packages, ready for people to install onto their devices. Here is how you do it, note that root access is NOT required, although a complete backup is recommended just in case.

Step 1) Download the Google Apps package.

UPDATE: The Google Apps packages can now be found here: http://wiki.cyanogenmod.org/w/Gapps.

There are two choices here, a talented ROM developer named Cyanogen has made available the Google Apps as a package here (scroll to bottom – dated 20/10/10). Download the package that suits your device, where HDPI indicates resolutions with 800×480 resolution, and MDPI generally for those with 480×320. Alternatively, there is a slightly older version located here (26/09)The net result is that you will have downloaded a file called update.zip. Within this file are the Google Apps themselves (in a series of .apk packages). Copy the entire update.zip to the root directory of your sdcard, generally /sdcard/ or /mnt/sdcard.

Step 2) Flash the update.zip

Now assuming that you have access to the recovery environment on your device, boot into recovery. Generally, this is done by holding one of the volume buttons, the home button and power button on a cold boot (even without root access), although with each device it may vary. You can also reboot into recovery through ADB, by using ‘adb reboot recovery’ command, or use an application such as Quick Boot to boot into recovery. Once you are in the recovery menu (these days it’s a 2E/3E recovery system) there will be an option to ‘flash update.zip’, select and wait, then when complete, just reboot. If you DO NOT have access to the recovery console, check out Step 2B, installing via alternative method. If it worked, then you now have the full complement of apps. Head to Step 3.

Step 2B) If 2 doesn’t work, install manually

OK so what do you do if you don’t have access to recovery or the flash didn’t work? You will need to install the applications manually. Reboot your phone as per normal, then on your PC, open the update.zip with an archive explorer (Windows will do it, as will WinZip/WinRar/etc), and you will notice a series of folders. Depending on which update.zip you downloaded, navigate to data/apps or system/apps and find a series of .apk files in there. Grab the ones you want, and either install via ADB, or use a file explorer to install them after copying them to the phone.

Here’s a quick summary of what apps are what to my knowledge. The items in bold are critical for basic Google Account Sync functions. The list is based on the Froyo release of GApps (dated 09/10/10).

CarHomeGoogle.apk – Car Dock interface (with the large simplified icons / shortcuts).
CarHomeLauncher.apk - Car Dock interface (with the large simplified icons / shortcuts).
Contacts.apk – Contact/People manager, front end GUI.
ContactsProvider.apk – Database backend for contact manager.
Facebook.apk – Facebook application. Up to date version available from Market.
GenieWidget.apk – Homescreen widget which provides weather/news.
Gmail.apk – GMail application. Also installs Mail sync provider.
GoogleBackupTransport.apk – Allows backup option in settings menu to functions, backing up settings/apps to Google servers. (?)
GoogleCalendarSyncAdapter.apk – Installs Calendar sync provider. Registers specific calendars on device for use in other Calendar applications.
GoogleContactsSyncAdapter.apk – Installs Contact sync provider. Required for Google Talk application to function correctly.
GoogleFeedback.apk – When a program crashes, option to log crash report.
GooglePartnerSetup.apk – Unknown, most likely used on initialisation of device.
GoogleQuickSearchBox.apk – Widget on home screen for quick search. Also has voice search shortcut, and search type box.
GoogleServicesFramework.apk – Core for Google services backend on phone. Required for nearly all Sync functions.
googlevoice.apk – Google Voice app. Useful in countries where Google Voice is supported.
HtcCopyright.apk – HTC application to display copyright information, can be used on non-HTC devices as well, but useless.
HtcEmailPolicy.apk - HTC application to display copyright information, can be used on non-HTC devices as well, but useless.
HtcSettings.apk - HTC application to display customised settings, can be used on non-HTC devices as well, but useless.
kickback.apk – Unknown. Does not appear to be useful.
LatinImeTutorial.apk – Tutorial on how to use the touch screen keyboard. Chances are you already know how to use it.
Maps.apk – Google Maps application. Latest version also available on Market.
MarketUpdater.apk – Specific software updater for market, automatically runs as required.
MediaUploader.apk – Background service which launches everytime you run an upload function (ie. Picasa / Facebook / Emails)
NetworkLocation.apk – Uses cell triangulation and/or wireless networks to help speed up GPS location. Toggled through Location settings.
OneTimeInitializer.apk – Most likely OOBE, not necessary.
PassionQuickOffice.apk – Office suite. If you have other office suites, then not required.
SetupWizard.apk – When you enter details for your Google Account initially, this is called.
soundback.apk – Unknown, not necessary.
Street.apk – Street View, called when zoomed in on a location on Google Maps and want street level view.
Talk.apk – Google Talk, chat program. Is critical when using Android Market to download apps. Many downloads will not initialise with Talk being logged in.
talkback.apk – Possibly similar to Feedback. Does not appear to be necessary.
Twitter.apk – Twitter application and/or widget. Latest version is available from Market.
Vending.apk – Official Android Market.
VoiceSearch.apk – Voice search, can be called from shortcut, keyboards or via app drawer.
YouTube.apk – Youtube application. Latest version can be found on market.

For the absolute basic functions, you just need the items in bold. If you want all the shiny bits, then install the whole lot. I’m very much a minimalist myself, so I will generally stick to only the bare necessities, and install more later if required (since it’s a very quick process, especially via ADB). Note that if any of these apps already exist on the device, then you will need to uninstall them first. If they are marked as system apps, then  you will require root access to remove them. Though you shouldn’t have to reinstall existing apps at all.

Step 3) We’re done. Initialise!

Once all apps are installed, then reboot the device. Upon rebooting, go to Accounts and Settings in menu, and a new option to enter a Google account should now be present. Your device now has the Google Apps on it. Enjoy!

NOTES:

* On some devices, the Market may not display applications correctly. Try clearing the cache/data for ‘Google Services Framework’ within the ‘Manage Applications’ settings menu, then clear/data for ‘Market’. Reboot and try again.
* On first run, a permission request may appear in the notification bar when Sync attempts to contact the Google services. Grant permissions as required.
* If you are installing over previous versions of these apps, ensure you wipe the cache/data before removing the old apps, as residual data may cause issues with the new apps.

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48 thoughts on “How to install Google Apps (GApps) on your Android Device / Phone

  1. the links for update.zip seem outdated, no one links u to the actual file.
    is an update possible?

  2. Hi i have Motorola MB525 its play store /market is not working and not uninstall ing.pls guide me

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  6. Please help me, i have my google app before (i’m using samsung captive 2.1) but dont know what happen i cant no longer open my google acct., market and can’t download any app

  7. please help me . I don’t know how to install play store in my device.

  8. Will this work with Pandigital Supernova. Running gingerbread 2.3 . Im new to tablets.

  9. Excellent post. I used to be checking continuously this weblog and I’m impressed! Extremely helpful info specifically the remaining part :) I maintain such info much. I used to be looking for this certain information for a very lengthy time. Thank you and best of luck.

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  11. Thanks Thanks Thanks! I have a Velocity Micro Cruz T301 and this helped tremendously!!!!! I now have the Gmarket…but I have to figure out next how to update to the new name of Google Play. I am going to try the updater to see if that helps. I will come back with confirmation/ or not lol. I have to add that the proper Cyanogenmod to use is HDPI v6. It took two downloads to figure this out, even though *and advice from another forum*. I am, however, very grateful to the person that wrote this “blog” and for the responders. :-) PS…I still can’t find angry birds though :-( Maybe when it’s updated it will show up. *fingers crossed*

  12. Stupid me deleted data from GApps, now couldn’t access mail and youtube. Anyway to undone damage? Pls help. Couldn’t even make phonecall.

  13. Android phone purchased from authorized dealers in China do not allow users to add a Google account. I followed these instructions on my new Galaxy W i8150 and now I am synced with Google. Had to download the android market app separately, just search for the .apk file. Also this didn’t set up the default ‘email’ app on my phone, but I might just use the gmail app from android marketplace.

    Is the .zip necessary after install or can it be removed from the system?

  14. Hey there people, how’s things? i know i’m probably commenting on an old blog post… yet.. i got some problems with this procedure.. so here’s what it happened..
    i downloaded the right apks for my android (samsung galaxy SII) pretty mobile, but unfortunately bought in china and without any google apps. anyway.. i was just able to install those apks individually.. from the sdcard.. i’ve tried using the boot procedure, but it couldn’t complete entirely the update.. therefore i went for the step 2B.. it installs almost everything, at least the essential list that was given above..
    gmail, gtalk, work fantastically well!
    yet.. the market, and google maps app have some issues.. google maps loads perfectly.. but apparently can’t access the GPS signal.. (no idea why.. since other map apps work!) and then the market, it opens too browses everything perfectly but then crashes when trying to download an app or any update.. i noticed that the only apk that i was unable to install from the package given above was networklocation.apk.. i have apps i can’t install now..like gowalla and foursquare but eveything else on my mobile works just fine! help please ? :-\

  15. Got the same issue and indication of why it was not installed. I’m trying to get Google Calender back after removing it.

  16. A simple rule of thumb i found: Android 2.2 is code named “Froyo”, as all version names start with A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I ( …Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice cream… you get it). So froyo is 6th. letter, so you need Cyanogenmod 6 version of google apps.

  17. If you dont use cyanogenmod, you fist need to know witch cyanogenmod version correspond to your android version.

    Android 2.3 gingerbread goes with cyanogedmod V7, and verson 6 correspond to android 2.2 froyo, etc., so my android 2.2 device needs the gapps marked as for the cyanogenmod V6.

    Its was so dificult to get to know it, i don’t understand how is it not mentioned anywhere, please add this table of correspondences in the article if you kind it appropiate, sure it will be usefull for non cyanogenmod users.

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  19. all apk i tried to install gave ‘application not installed’ message, except for vending.apk… what’s a possible cause for this? I used root explorer to install them, help please…

  20. hey… thanks for your info… i have a problem here, u say can install Gapps later, but how?

    i recently flash my phone to CyanogenMod 7, and i install the Gapps.zip through the CMW recovery, when first boot, i saw the Gapps interface and let me choose the apps that i want install, but i straight away cancel it, so how can i get back to that interface to install Gapps?

  21. Hi,

    Same problem here. What file do you downloaded and installed in your U8500?

  22. Contacts.apk and ContactsProviders.apk are part of Android Open Source Project and not considered proprietary Google apps (in other words, you can build Android from source and the contacts apk’s will be included, but the Gapps you have to get separately because they are not open source)

  23. Thanks for this excellent article.On last Thursday night (5th Aug 2011),I upgraded my cell phone’s (Huawei U8500) Os from android eclair to Froyo.But,unfortunately,i found no google apps were included in the package i used from huawei web page…I was totally lost,coz,my cell was not receiving nay calls and could not access INTERNET..Then, after 30 straight hours of web browsing and experimenting on various methods , i found this article,so SIMPLE.. thanks man.

  24. Thanks for this useful post. Curiously enough, I downloaded the various Cyanogen HDPI files, also the older one mentioned – not one of them contained the Contacts.apk and ContactsProviders.apk!

    Found a post on SlateDroid where someone was looking for Contacts.apk – appears that it can be extracted from the emulator part of the SDK.

  25. Thanks Andre. I can confirm the fix in that link works, but requires a bit of fiddling as the first install of it caused the Accounts settings page to crash. Here is how I did it:

    1) Download the IMX515 zip file in Andre’s link
    2) Install using the included bat file
    3) Download the GAPPS HDPI from Cyanogen’s site (http://wiki.cyanogenmod.com/index.php?title=Latest_Version). Install the Gmail, GoogleContactsSync, GooglePartnerSetup, GoogleServicesFramework (yes replace the existing one), MarketUpdater and SetupWizard.
    4) Reboot and now you can add Google Account.
    5) I have tested and can confirm that GMail / Contacts / Picasa sync works flawlessly. Market also works without problem, but existing apps may not show up (you might have to use market doctor or do this fix before you install apps).

    Woohoo!

  26. Shaun,

    I share your vision but I’ve tried to do factory resets and all possible stuff for this device and it is a problem that nobody has an easy fix until now. If you don’t believe me you can track the community updates at slatedroid and you’ll see that the community is trying to build a custom rom with market support because it is very difficult to deal with these unsupported devices (A8 unlisted ones). Of course, if you consider yourself a very advanced user with very high knowledge about Android intrinsics then you can just deal with it. For the rest of us, the community feedback is the easiest way to see how far you can go and do things. Good luck again!

  27. @Andre, I have to disagree with you. If any market fix doesn’t work, it’s a simple matter of doing a factory reset via the Settings menu (or alternatively boot up with the 3-button combo (home/power/vol-down) to enter recovery mode). I have done this before without issue. You do not need to open your device.

    I strongly disagree with AndroidTouchPC selling firmware updates, as I think this is disingenous and people should not have to pay for ROM updates. It’s only through the small quantity of these units and their relative newness on the market that there has not been more open community development, but I’m sure that will change in time.

  28. Hello there David,

    Don’t try any Market fix. This is this device’s easiest way to break your screen problem. If you brick your device you’ll have to open it to restore the firmware (obtain SD card). I did that and I have a broken touch screen (even though a new one is on its way). If you want an easy way of having market. Buy the SD that androidtouchpc sells with Market preinstalled for this device or wait for someone’s magical ROM. You can track community’s updates at slatedroid forum in the Unlisted Cortex A8 thread. Good luck!

  29. I have an IMX515 Freescale A8 8″ epad. Tried everything to install the android market app but unsucessful. uninstalled, cleared data, fatory reset etc etc but always get ‘google services framework, forced close’ I can get gmail to work and load market main screen even says starting download but never does, the error messages again. Does anyway have it working? Any advice, is there update for 2.2 or does whis device just not work with it?

  30. Hello there,

    I have the IMX515 APAD you reviewed the other day. I followed your tutorial and when I tried to install stuff via Market the download wouldn’t just start. Still looking for the solution that will work for me… At the cyanogem mod site I’ve downloaded the gapps-hdpi found on the right bottom of the wiki. Can you tell me if you stumbled on a similar problem and if you used the same flashing? Oh! And I did step 2B because I wasn’t able to perform the update with the update.zip. Thank you for the great guide and review!

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