xml – PHP: How to get version from android .apk file?-ThrowExceptions

Exception or error:

I am trying to create a PHP script to get the app version from Android APK file.
Extracting XML file from the APK (zip) file and then parsing XML is one way, but I guess it should be simpler. Something like PHP Manual, example #3.
Any ideas how to create the script?

How to solve:

If you have the Android SDK installed on the server, you can use PHP’s exec (or similar) to execute the aapt tool (in $ANDROID_HOME/platforms/android-X/tools).

$ aapt dump badging myapp.apk

And the output should include:

package: name='com.example.myapp' versionCode='1530' versionName='1.5.3'

If you can’t install the Android SDK, for whatever reason, then you will need to parse Android’s binary XML format. The AndroidManifest.xml file inside the APK zip structure is not plain text.

You would need to port a utility like AXMLParser from Java to PHP.


I’ve created a set of PHP functions that will find just the Version Code of an APK. This is based on the fact that the AndroidMainfest.xml file contains the version code as the first tag, and based on the axml (binary Android XML format) as described here


$versionCode = getVersionCodeFromAPK($APKLocation);
echo $versionCode;

//Based on the fact that the Version Code is the first tag in the AndroidManifest.xml file, this will return its value
//PHP implementation based on the AXML format described here: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/2097813/how-to-parse-the-androidmanifest-xml-file-inside-an-apk-package/14814245#14814245
function getVersionCodeFromAPK($APKLocation) {

    $versionCode = "N/A";

    //AXML LEW 32-bit word (hex) for a start tag
    $XMLStartTag = "00100102";

    //APK is esentially a zip file, so open it
    $zip = zip_open($APKLocation);
    if ($zip) {
        while ($zip_entry = zip_read($zip)) {
            //Look for the AndroidManifest.xml file in the APK root directory
            if (zip_entry_name($zip_entry) == "AndroidManifest.xml") {
                //Get the contents of the file in hex format
                $axml = getHex($zip, $zip_entry);
                //Convert AXML hex file into an array of 32-bit words
                $axmlArr = convert2wordArray($axml);
                //Convert AXML 32-bit word array into Little Endian format 32-bit word array
                $axmlArr = convert2LEWwordArray($axmlArr);
                //Get first AXML open tag word index
                $firstStartTagword = findWord($axmlArr, $XMLStartTag);
                //The version code is 13 words after the first open tag word
                $versionCode = intval($axmlArr[$firstStartTagword + 13], 16);


    return $versionCode;

//Get the contents of the file in hex format
function getHex($zip, $zip_entry) {
    if (zip_entry_open($zip, $zip_entry, 'r')) {
        $buf = zip_entry_read($zip_entry, zip_entry_filesize($zip_entry));
        $hex = unpack("H*", $buf);
        return current($hex);

    //Given a hex byte stream, return an array of words
function convert2wordArray($hex) {
    $wordArr = array();
    $numwords = strlen($hex)/8;

    for ($i = 0; $i < $numwords; $i++)
        $wordArr[] = substr($hex, $i * 8, 8);

    return $wordArr;

//Given an array of words, convert them to Little Endian format (LSB first)
function convert2LEWwordArray($wordArr) {
    $LEWArr = array();

    foreach($wordArr as $word) {
        $LEWword = "";
        for ($i = 0; $i < strlen($word)/2; $i++)
            $LEWword .= substr($word, (strlen($word) - ($i*2) - 2), 2);
        $LEWArr[] = $LEWword;

    return $LEWArr;

//Find a word in the word array and return its index value
function findWord($wordArr, $wordToFind) {
    $currentword = 0;
    foreach ($wordArr as $word) {
        if ($word == $wordToFind)
            return $currentword;


Use this in the CLI:

apktool if 1.apk
aapt dump badging 1.apk

You can use these commands in PHP using exec or shell_exec.


aapt dump badging ./apkfile.apk | grep sdkVersion -i

You will get a human readable form.


Just look for aapt in your system if you have Android SDK installed.
Mine is in:



The dump format is a little odd and not the easiest to work with. Just to expand on some of the other answers, this is a shell script that I am using to parse out name and version from APK files.

aapt d badging PACKAGE | gawk $'match($0, /^application-label:\'([^\']*)\'/, a) { n = a[1] }
                               match($0, /versionName=\'([^\']*)\'/, b) { v=b[1] }
                               END { if ( length(n)>0 && length(v)>0 ) { print n, v } }'

If you just want the version then obviously it can be much simpler.

aapt d badging PACKAGE | gawk $'match($0, /versionName=\'([^\']*)\'/, v) { print v[1] }'

Here are variations suitable for both gawk and mawk (a little less durable in case the dump format changes but should be fine):

aapt d badging PACKAGE | mawk -F\' '$1 ~ /^application-label:$/ { n=$2 }
                                    $5 ~ /^ versionName=$/ { v=$6 }
                                    END{ if ( length(n)>0 && length(v)>0 ) { print n, v } }'

aapt d badging PACKAGE | mawk -F\' '$5 ~ /^ versionName=$/ { print $6 }'

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