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What To Do if your Android Device Won’t Download or Install Apps

Posted by Jamie on February 25, 2019

Smartphones and tablets are very capable devices but without apps and software to make them perform they are mostly expensive paperweights. Apps are what keep us interested in our devices. Aside from the basic utility a phone offers for communicating, it’s the hundreds of apps we get to play with that keep us hooked. So what can you do if your Android device won’t download or install apps?

It is something I know I take for granted. Load up Google Play Store, find something interesting, download it and explore it. As long as I have a good WiFi or 4G connection I’m golden. Stuff just works. The app installs, it appears on the screen and I get to play with it. So what do you do if it all goes wrong?

Android device won’t download or install apps

If you follow the basic guidelines which are, have lots of battery and a good 4G or WiFi signal, very little ever goes wrong with app downloads. Google Play Store is solid. Android OS is flexible. App standards are getting better all the time and it mostly just works, until it doesn’t.

Here are some things you can try if your Android device won’t download or install apps.

Check your free space

Whenever you’re troubleshooting a device, it pays to never forget the basics. Downloads are dependent on having free space to download to. Most apps are only a few megabytes but some are larger. Do you have enough space on your device? Do you have to perform some spring cleaning before adding new stuff?

Navigate to Settings and Storage to see if you have the space required for the app.

Check your network

I always download over WiFi as it saves my data for more important things. However you download your apps, check to make sure the network you’re connected to has enough strength to maintain the connection. If your WiFi is congested or you’re almost out of range or you only have a bar or two of 4G, you may want to wait until you’re better positioned before downloading your app.

Reboot your device

This is always the first proper troubleshooting step you should take when things go wrong. However well written it may be, software depends on timing and on a complicated ballet of processing, allocation and execution for it all to go perfectly. If the timing is out or a preceding line of code gets stuck for some reason, it can all go pear-shaped.

A reboot will cause the phone to drop all the code it was processing and begin again. New processes will be loaded into memory and you may be able to download the app without any errors.

Check your settings

Processing isn’t the only thing that requires timing to work. Authentication is another mobile process that requires the correct time in order to authenticate your device with Google Play and the download server. Most of us have our phones to automatically synchronize date and time with the network but it is worth checking.

All you need do is check the current time against a news channel or internet time. If it’s correct, move on. If it isn’t, correct it or set it to automatic. That’s usually Settings, System, Date and Time. Toggle on Automatic date & time and you’re golden.

Clear the Google Play Store cache

If your Android device won’t download or install apps even after all these checks, it might be worth clearing the Store cache. This is a temporary storage where the Google Play Store saves all the data it uses and/or needs to function. It can become corrupted so is worth checking out if things aren’t going to plan.

  1. Select Settings and Apps.
  2. Select All apps and Google Play Store.
  3. Select Storage and Clear cache.
  4. Repeat for Google Play service and Google Services Framework if present.

Change your Google Play Store permissions

Ideally you should never have to touch permissions as they are set automatically. However, if you got this far and you still cannot download or install an app, it’s worth trying.

  1. Select Settings and Apps & Notifications.
  2. Select App info and Google Play Store.
  3. Select Permissions.
  4. Ensure SMS and Telephone are enabled. Contacts and Location are optional but turn them on to test.
  5. Select Google Play Services from App info and Permissions.
  6. Make sure permissions are set to On for Body sensors, Calendar, Camera, Contacts, Location, Microphone, SMS, Storage and Telephone.
  7. Retest the app download.

Some security apps will mess around with these settings but the Google Play Store can be sensitive to them. If you don’t want all of these services accessible, you can turn them off after testing.

If your Android device won’t download or install apps, one of the above steps is sure to help. Do you know of any other ways to get downloads working? Tell us about it below if you do!

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