Android App Stores in China
Can you imagine Android without Google Play? Well, Chinese Android users don’t really need Google Play to survive as most of them have never heard of it anyway.
Google and the Chinese Government have not been the best of friends for some years now. Every now and then, you hear them having countless meetings that bear no meaningful fruits. Over the years, the Great Firewall of China has throttled and blocked a number of foreign websites from social media networks to search engines.
Somewhere in May 2014, many Google sites where blocked in China mainland. Products like Google Search, Google Maps, Google Play Store and Google Translate were all thrown over the Great Firewall. Later in the year, Gmail and all Google footprints were completely inaccessible but Google Translate was later unblocked. For most foreigners who are using the Android operating system, blocking such an important service was a big blow.
Since the service can no longer be accessed now, there is no way to update apps and the thought of installing a new app from Play Store is like a dream in a Wonderland. The only work-around is to get an effective VPN or turn to the local Chinese Android stores.
Google Play and China
Even before all Google products were booted out of China, Google’s Play Store was not available on Chinese android phones. It could be any brand of phone including Samsung, HTC, Lenovo etc. so far as it’s the Chinese version, it comes without Play Store. Interestingly, even if the user tries to manually install the app, it still wouldn’t work.
However, the international versions as well as those from Hong Kong of the same phones come with default installation of the Google Play app. That was when Play Store had not been blocked yet. Even though the service can longer be accessed in main land China, it’s good to keep in mind that it’s not advisable to buy Chinese version of android phones when you need Google Play. Or if you intend using the phone outside the borders of China one day.
Instead, you can buy the international versions of the same phones. Note that the international versions also have multi-language option and works perfectly in Chinese.
Google Play Alternatives in China
There are a lot of Chinese app stores where you can find most of the apps available on Google Play Store. You can get the English versions (and sometimes the Chinese versions) of your favorite foreign apps (including VPN) and games from these stores.
It’s good to note that majority of Android malware are traced from apps found in unofficial marketplaces. Most of these Chinese android stores are unofficial marketplaces and the level of security cannot be guaranteed.
Below are some of the most popular android app stores in China. Please note that the list is not in any special order.
Hi-apk Android market (Baidu-owned)
91 Mobile Assistant (Baidu-owned)