How can I install an app on a Salesforce Sandbox, but not through the AppExchange?

I mean like in Android we install apps from Google play but we can also install an app from an APK file

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    Pretty sure there is a way of installing from github/heroku, I think that's how I installed the meta data app from Andrew fawcett – Girbot Mar 25 '17 at 12:12

Yes, its possible to install a custom application from an alternate source than app exchange.

Following are different options:

  1. Packages:

    • Developers can distribute links of their managed or unmanaged packages (custom apps), without publishing them to appexchange. Using this links admins can install the application in any Developer/Sandbox/Production orgs.
  2. Using source code with any deployment tool:

  3. Deploy to Salesforce button:

    • Deploy to Salesforce button in GitHub is also quite popular.

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