It was a big deal when Microsoft announced that Windows Phone 8 will have SD card support, since WP user had been asking for this feature for a long time since the launch of Windows Phone 7. Although WP8 devices have been around for more than a month now, not a lot of people have gotten around to getting really familiar with everything their phone’s SD card can do. You might not know, for instance, that the card is not only for media files, but can also help you in installing large apps that you don’t want to download directly on your phone. This feature can come handy if you don’t have Wi-Fi or high speed data connection on your phone, and the app you want to install is really large. The process is quite easy, especially since WP8 assist you in every step along the way.
The method can be quite useful for sharing large apps with your friends, or deploying them on multiple devices in the same household or organization. Here’s how it works regarding paid and free app:
- If the app is available for free on Windows Phone Store, you will be able to install it with no issue.
- If the app is paid on Windows Phone Store and you have already purchased it in the past, you will be able to install it with no issue.
- If the app is paid on Windows Phone Store and you don’t own it already, you will be able to install the free trial, or purchase it and install the full version.
- If the app is not found on Windows Phone Store, you will not be allowed to install it, even if it is completely free.
As you can see, this method will not allow you to sideload third-party apps that haven’t been published on Windows Phone Store. Still, the app won’t be downloaded to the phone; Windows Phone Store will only be used to verify its authenticity due to Microsoft’s anti-piracy measures, and to make sure apps that haven’t been approved by Microsoft don’t make their way to Windows Phone devices to avoid the spread of malware.
That said, here’s how to install apps to Windows Phone devices using their XAP files.
- Make sure you have an active Wi-Fi or cellular data connection on your phone, as it will be required for authentication purposes.
- From your computer, go to the Windows Phone Store by entering the following URL in the web browser:
- Using the search bar provided in the top-right corner, look for the app you want to install.
- On the app’s dedicated page, scroll down and find the option marked ‘Download and install manually’. It is available in the column below the main installation button at the left of the screen.
- Click this option. Depending on your browser settings, it will ask you to save the XAP file, or automatically start downloading it.
- Connect your SD card to the computer using a card reader, and transfer the downloaded file to it. Alternatively, you can connect the card to the computer before downloading the file, and save the file directly to it by specifying the appropriate download location.
- Once the download is complete, remove the card and insert it into your WP8.
- Go to the WP Store hub (formerly Marketplace) on your phone and select the SD card option from its main page.
- The Store hub is smart enough to distinguish between media files and XAPs, and only display installable files when the card is accessed from it. Make sure your phone has an active data connection, and tap the correct XAP file.
Unlike in iTunes, you won’t be asked to sign in to any account when downloading the file on a computer, as all verification is done on-device.