Google is shifting away from APK; require new Apps to use APK Bundle


Alphabet-owned company, Google, has announced a big change for developers planning on listing their apps on Google Play store.

The tech giant informed developers that starting in August, it would require that new apps on Play Store be published using the Android App Bundle, instead of the standard format for app publishing, which is currently APK.

This change is projected to have the capacity of impacting the Android app ecosystem. Right now, only the Google Play Store supports App Bundles, which could complicate app redistribution.

Stores like Amazon Appstore, which will be the default Android app store on Windows 11, does not support App Bundle yet; neither do the third-party app stores that will be natively supported in the upcoming Android 12 update.

On a Google page about Android App Bundle, the company touts many potential improvements with the new format, such as smaller app downloads for users.

The format, which was introduced back in 2018, is a way to deliver smaller updates to users. With this format, Play Store servers can figure out what language, image resolution and additional resources are needed for specific devices and create an optimized APK just for the device.

Currently, developers have to create an APK that works on a variety of devices and include resources each device might not need.

The Bundle features enables an app to be split into pieces. For instance, in a game where many players find it hard to pass a stage, instead of downloading all the assets for the game, Bundle would give room for those levels to be downloaded only when needed.

Play Store will then figure out which assets are best for your device, considering the specifications on the device, such that high resolution textures would not be downloaded on a low-end device. This will further cut down data transfer requirements.

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Right now, majority of the top apps on Play are Bundles, that is, over 1 million apps are already available in the Bundle format.

According to expert developers, building both an APK and an Android App Bundle is not such a difficult process, as it is just a few clicks away on the major tools (Android Studio, Unity, Unreal Engine and others).

The timing of Google’s announcement also comes just days after Microsoft announced Windows 11, which has the ability to let you sideload Android apps as APKs.

Google’s switch to App Bundles may mean that Microsoft’s new operating system would be able to run fewer Android apps.

The requirement to use Android App Bundles only applies to new apps. According to Google, “existing apps are currently exempt, as are private apps being published to manage Google Play users.”

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