Considering how large apps tend to slow down many a Android phone, Google at I/O 2018 on Tuesday announced a new publishing format called Android App Bundle that is aimed at helping developers optimise the size of their apps depending on devices. The new format doesn’t replace the standard APK file format but instead provides developers the ability to offer Android users APKs best suited for their devices directly from Google Play. Google claims that the new development can reduce app sizes up to 50 percent. It has been tested on some of original Google apps as well as partner apps, such as LinkedIn among others.
Available with Android Studio 3.2, the Android App Bundle format gives developers the option to choose which assets they would like to add to their app for a given device. This helps to deliver only those resources that are crucial for a device, and not all the resources. Essentially, the APK resources to be installed will depend on factors such as the CPU architecture, device language, and screen densities, among others, while the non-essential resources will not be installed on the device. While developers can submit the app’s code with the new Android App Bundle upload format, it is the new Dynamic Delivery app serving model that detects the device’s configuration and delivers the optimised APK files. Ultimately, the new way enables reduction not just in the download size of apps but also in their total installation size as the entire app package will have only appropriate resources and code.
Google’s Director of Product Management for Android Stephanie Cuthbertson in her keynote presentation on Tuesday showcased that with the growth of Android, average app size on Android platform is growing rapidly as apps are targeting more users and more countries and offering more features and adding more languages. This growth is, interestingly, declining the number of installs as most users, even in developed regions – alongside their counterparts in emerging markets – don’t want to install apps that are large in size. Thus, the need for Android App Bundle.
Cuthbertson mentioned that the initial testing of Android App Bundle helped LinkedIn save 23 percent and Twitter save 35 percent. “If you’re wondering how many devices does that work on, the answer is 99 percent and that’s because it’s built on long-standing platform concepts like splits and multi-APK,” she added.
Alongside Android App Bundle, Google also has its Instant App model that essentially omits the installation process and offers apps on Android devices through a URL. At I/O 2018, the Android maker opened its Instant App offering to game developers; it was previously only available to app developers.
That being said, Android App Bundle seems more practical in nature and has a wider area to cover over the Instant App model as it aims to reduce the size of traditional apps – not just bringing new apps altogether. Moreover, Google is set to make the App Bundle format supportive for instant apps in the future.