Sailfish OS aims to be compatible with the majority of Android apps, but due to the sheer volume of Android applications designed for Android-based devices with different configurations, we cannot guarantee 100% compatibility.
In this article, you will learn how to make the best of the AndroidTM App Support on your Sailfish device.
If you would like to remove Android apps (and support) from your Sailfish device, read this help article.
1 Installing Android applications on your Sailfish device
Installing Android applications is done by downloading apk files (an Android package file used to distribute applications) from application stores and by then installing them to your Sailfish device.
Before installing any Android apps one must install AndroidTM App Support (simulation of the Android system on Sailfish OS) which is available in the Jolla Store. This requires the Sailfish X licence on Xperia devices.
1.1 Installing applications from application stores
The SailfishOS operating system of Jolla supports Android apps that are featured in the Jolla Store and in Jolla-certified app partner stores.
We recommend first checking what is available in Aptoide Store.
Jolla has hidden the Aptoide Store app in Jolla Store temporarily (we hope) as it tends to pull in a fake update, appearing by names Zappy Market or Applicaciones. Furthermore, it seems that the Facebook app can get an update from Aptoide which converts it to another fake app Facebook Watch. Hence, please
- do not install updates for Android apps from Aptoide for now (this is being handled)
- do not use Aptoide at all
- consider using alternative Android stores, e.g. APK Pure. Download the APK from m.apkpure.com and install (see chapter 1.2 below).
There are also other Android app stores (see examples below), some of which we have tried out, and it is possible to download these stores to your Sailfish device and install apps from there.
Some examples of other app stores:
Note regarding the Google Play Store
Sailfish OS does not support the Google Play store, because it relies on Google's proprietary background services only found on Android devices running Google's Android. We always advise against installing Google Services on SailfishOS, as it is known to potentially cause different problems.
Applications that report that they require Google Play Services may work entirely or partially regardless of that disclaimer. It may not be possible to install some apps at all.
Not finding the Android apps you need?
Have a look at Aptoide's "Search other stores" function here.
This feature allows you to search for applications not immediately visible in Aptoide's search results.
1.2 Installing applications from .apk files
Android applications are installed from files with the extension ".apk". Once you point your Sailfish device to such a file, it is possible to install the Android application from this file.
a) Downloading with the Browser
You can web search via the Sailfish browser for the app you are interested in and if you find the application's .apk file, you can download it, and then install it. The browser downloads the files to folder Downloads. To learn how to quickly go to Transfers from the Browser, please have a look here.
Transfers can also be found in Settings > Transfers.
Once you see the list of downloaded files, tap on the file to begin installing it.
This help article has the detailed steps of installing APK Pure app store using this method.
b) Using File Manager
Another option to install .apk files is to first copy them to your device (e.g. to the Downloads folder) and then use the File manager application (Settings > Storage) to install the file/application (tap the .apk file in File Manager). To transfer files between your PC and your Sailfish device please see here.
c) Installing via Email
The third way is to send a .apk file attached to an email message. Once you receive the email with the attachment, simply tap on the attachment to download and install it.
2 Known limitations to Android App Support
As mentioned before, we cannot ensure 100% compatibility of Android apps with Sailfish OS. It is also possible that certain features of Android applications are not supported. Such frequently asked about features include:
- Reading any other information besides contacts information on your device, e.g. doesn't read or react to SMS messages' content, can't read calendar data
- Utilizing Bluetooth connections for any other purpose other than streaming music to a Bluetooth headset or speakers
Various Sailfish OS devices (generations) have a different Android App Support, i.e. the Android version they are compatible with is different:
- Android 8.1.0 "Oreo" on Xperia XA2 and Xperia 10 (*)
- API level (SDK version) 27
- Android 4.4.4 "Kit-Kat" on Xperia X, Jolla Tablet and Jolla C
- API level (SDK version) 19
- Android 4.1.2 "Jelly Bean" on Jolla Phone
- API level (SDK version) 16
If an Android application requires let's say Android 5.0 Lollipop it will typically refuse to install on any other Sailfish OS devices but Xperia XA2 and Xperia 10. Even if it were possible to install the app it would not work fully or at all.
(*) Android App Support running on Xperia XA2 and on Xperia 10 simulates Android 8.1 "Oreo" but it is compatible with the hardware drivers of Android 9 (AOSP 9). This makes it possible to install Sailfish OS to a device having Android 9. However, Android App Support v.8.1 of Sailfish OS is not compatible with Android apps or features requiring Android v.9 - such apps/features would not run on a Sailfish device.
3 Troubleshooting /FAQ
Q: I'm having trouble finding all the Android apps I need. How can I get these apps?
A: You can download Android application stores from Marketplaces of Jolla Store. The availability depends on your Sailfish OS device but all of them have at least Aptoide Store. Aptoide has perhaps the biggest offering of applications. You may find what you are looking for by using Aptoide's "Search Other Stores" function. To learn how to use it, please see here.
To read more about using the Aptoide app store in general, please see here.
Q: I'm having troubles installing an application from an apk file, what can I do?
A: If you are having troubles installing applications from .apk files, please follow the steps below:
1. Ensure that you have AndroidTM support installed from the Jolla Store. Install if missing.
2. Download and install any Android application from the Jolla Store. This mandatory step will initialize the AndroidTM support of your device so that it will be possible to install .apk files.
3. Attempt installation of the file again.
If this step didn't solve your problem, please keep reading:
4. Attempt installing another application from .apk
If you are successful in installing another application from .apk, it is likely that your .apk file is corrupted. Please try to obtain the file again from another source.
Q: I'm having troubles with running Android apps, what can I do?
If some of your Android apps fail to launch or tend to crash, then it is worthwhile trying to restart the AndroidTM App Support of your Sailfish device. Restarting Android service ends all processes related to it, and after this starts them up again.
In order to do this, go to Settings > AndroidTM App Support and stop it by tapping the "Stop" button and then restart it by tapping the "Start" button.
Q: I updated my Android app to a new version but it fails to work now. What can I do?
Find an earlier version of this app - many app stores have the previous versions available. Install an earlier version, effectively downgrade the app. This may help sometimes. Keep an eye on future updates - they may come with fixes which make the app work on the Android app platform of Sailfish OS again.
Q: I want to install Android apps but cannot as there is no Android App Support in the Jolla Store!
You have probably installed Sailfish X to your Xperia device. In this combination, the Sailfish X licence must be activated on the device. Only then Android App Support starts appearing in Jolla Store.
So, sign in from your Xperia device to the same Jolla account that you used when purchasing the licence. If you have signed in already then restart the device. The licence is now tied both to your account and to the IMEI code of your device. It is active. Next, open Jolla Store and look for Android Support in Jolla category.
There is more information in this help article.