For Android users in China, getting the apps you need on your cell phone or tablet can be tricky. While Apple’s App Store is accessible without a VPN, the Google Play Store is blocked on the Chinese mainland. Some Android devices work around this by having their own built-in app store installed on the device, but this isn’t always the case.
Thankfully, there are ways to get around the barriers and download the apps you need by using the app stores of domestic Chinese companies. Here are some of the most popular:
Sogou Mobile Assistant
Sougu, a search engine, has an app store where you can find most of your favorite apps. Searches will show a snippet of the app, along with its’ description, star ratings, app size, and download stats. At the bottom of the page, users can choose “High-speed download” (高速下载 ) or “Normal download” (普通下载). Clicking the high speed button will download Sougu’s app store, if not already installed, whereas the normal speed option will only download the app selected.
WeChat uses the Sougu search engine, so apps searched through WeChat will also use Sougu’s software for downloads.
PP Assistant has both Android and iOS versions, and is the App Store used by ShenMa, Alibaba’s search engine. However, unlike other search engines that provide a direct download link for apps, via the Android Application Package (APK), when searching for an app through ShenMa, users will be presented with only one button, “安全下载,” which will download PP Assistant.
Tencent Yingyong Bao
Owned by Tencent, Yingyong Bao is currently the most popular Android App Store in China, and you can find most apps for Android devices here.
Baidu Mobile Assistant
Baidu’s app store. Users will get app snippets from Baidu Mobile Assistant when searching for an app in Baidu.
360 Mobile Assistant
360 Mobile Assistant is from Qihoo 360, a company well known for their antivirus software and a popular web browser.
Although less well known than some of the other stores on this list, Anzhi Market has been around for many years and is well known for its active developer community, with members enthusiastically discussing and rating Android apps.
Essential App Vocabulary
应用市场 (Yìngyòng shìchǎng): App Store
软件 (ruǎnjiàn) : Software/Apps
游戏 (yóuxì) : Game
必备 (bì bèi) : Must Have
合集 (héjí) : Collection; Collection of Apps
立即下载 (lìjí xiàzài) : Download Now
官方 (guānfāng) : Official; [shows the app is released officially by the developer]
生活 (shēnghuó) : Lifestyle
出行 (chūxíng) : Travel
工具 (gōngjù) : Tool; [usually denotes productivity tool apps]
社交 (shèjiāo) : Social Media
通讯 (tōngxùn) : Communication
音乐 (yīnyuè) : Music
Cover image from Needpix