Aug 12 AT 4:13 PM Taylor Wimberly 13 Comments

Email Android apps with APKatcher

I have shared my complaints before about the native Gmail client for Android.  Most of them have been addressed with the Android 1.5 update, but there are still things that annoy me.  Developers constantly send me APK files so I can test and review their software, but native Gmail will crash if you try to download one.  Instead, I am forced to open up the web browser and go to the Gmail site to retrieve the files, which is really frustrating.

Thankfully, nEx.Software has come to the rescue.  His new app APKatcher does exactly what I need.  Once installed, the app allows you to use the preview button in native Gmail to download and install APK files. Now you can share APK files with ease and download them with a single click.

We recently had the chance to catch up with nEx.Software and ask him about his latest creation.

Android and Me:  Why did you make APKatcher?

nEx.Software:  As a developer who works with other developers and/or “clients” on a regular basis, I find myself sending out quick proof copies of Applications I am working on, or receiving the same from those I am working with. Often times I am not at my computer (believe it or not) when I receive these emails. For some reason, the Gmail application doesn’t allow you to download and/or install these applications directly. For the longest time I was going to Gmail in the browser, downloading the file to my SD Card, and then installing the application. Needless to say, this is cumbersome. So, I decided to write a small utility to help this process along.

AAM:  How long did it take to write?

nEx.Software:  I worked on this application on and off over the course of a day. Total development time (including research) probably came in at about 3 hours or so.

AAM:  What has the feedback been like?

nEx.Software:  I am surprised at how it has been received. Going into it, I felt as if it would be a really useful tool for a few people who, like me, send Applications via email. The key word in that sentence is few. To my utter surprise, there have been over a thousand downloads and a retention rate of about 90%. As of last check, the average user rating is 5 stars (4.93 according to Cyrket). Comments have been great and back up the user rating well.

AAM:  Anything else you want to share?

nEx.Software:  To be competely honest, I am not entirely sure why the Gmail application does not do this. I suppose Google might have left out this feature in a passive attempt to reduce the liklihood of unauthorized sharing, but if that is the case, then I’d have to say that all it did was make it more cumbersome. As someone who is simply trying to send and receive applications legitimately, I’m pretty disappointed in this user experience. I hope everyone finds this simply tool as useful as I do.

APKatcher for Android
Version: 1.0
Developed By: nEx.Software
Price: FREE
Filesize: 14.2 KB
Finally I can download APK files from the native Gmail.

Finally I can download APK files from the native Gmail.

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • Clark Wimberly

    To be competely honest, I am not entirely sure why the Gmail application does not do this.

    Even funnier considering you said the whole thing took 3 hours total. They need to get on the ball.

    Nice job!

  • Brantyr

    I don’t know why the native gmail app fails so hard with attachments – particularly pdf files which you can only preview using the gmail html converter – I have a PDF reader installed on my phone which I’d rather open it with, especially since the preview button just gives me a blank page.

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  • lucian

    nice app… I was waiting for it !


    This is frustrating too, that’s why I primarily use K( Mail for Android email. They both have their pros and cons. Gmail has Search but not a simple yet useful feature as Previous/Next buttons. Annoying to press Back to get to next email :-(

  • RandomStranger

    Microsoft has taken a lot of flack over the past 15 years because it’s trivial to execute an application which came in as an email attachment.

    Native GMail crashing is hardly optimal, but doesn’t APKatcher open the door for Android-based email worms?

  • nEx.Software


    I’m not sure how APKatcher could open the door to Android-based email worms. When you hit preview (whether you have APKatcher or not) Gmail downloads the file and stores it on the device. All APKatcher does is copy that file to a usable location on the SD Card and then prompt the Package Installer to install the application. The user has full control whether or not to install it. It is no less secure than downloading applications from the Market. The only difference is the user should make sure they know where the APK came from. One could argue that one should also do the same for the Market, since there is no one monitoring the applications in the Market either.

  • RandomStranger

    That’s what I see as the problem. For the past 15 years, the security community has been saying, “Don’t open attachments you weren’t expecting, particularly if you don’t know the sender.” And yet, people open them anyhow.

    And no, I don’t trust a lot of the stuff on the Market. Lots of things like todo lists apps which require access to my contacts and unfettered net access even though the description makes no mention of features which could possibly require that sort of permission.

    I won’t argue that I should probably start scrounging around for some tin foil, but I’m wondering if maybe programs like this shouldn’t pop up a warning saying something like, “Hey! Do you know who sent this? Are you sure it’s safe?”

    • nEx.Software

      That’s a great suggestion, and something I could certainly easily add into APKatcher. As far as your other concerns for application security… That certainly is a problem that unfortunately has not yet been addressed by Google or the Community. The fact that the only permission for Internet is full access, bothers a lot of people (me included) and needs to be more granular.

  • RandomStranger

    At any rate, I’m glad APKatcher doesn’t make it *too* easy for folks to shoot themselves in the foot. Executable content and email are just one of those combinations that make me nervous.

  • jp

    where is APKatcher download? I can’t find the link!!!!!!!

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  • margaret

    hw do u dwnload the apkatcher… realy confused abt ds…..i got on gmail and i dnt c a preview button….Hellllp plizzz!!!!!!!!!!im in ireland nd dnt ave a clue on hw 2 gt ds app….