APK files live on as Google retains prevalent app delivery package but tweaks each installer for Conditional and Instant Delivery

Android Apps APK AAB
Not necessarily from APK to AAB. Pic credit: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

Google will change the delivery methodology for Android apps to Android App Bundles. Even the large datasets will no longer be in OBB. However, the APK package for Android apps is not going anywhere, for now.

The Android Play Store will undergo a substantial revision in the backend. While Android device users will not see any visual changes, they should experience quicker downloads and faster installs.

The APK file format lives on, but Google will modify each installation of an Android app according to the device:

Google is adopting the Android App Bundle (AAB). However, some reports have indicated that the prevalent APK package would become obsolete.

It is important to note that Google is not retiring the traditional APK Android app delivery package. The company insists App Bundles optimize the delivery and installation of Android apps for each device that runs Android OS.

Google and developers will continue relying on the APK or Android Package. However, during installation, Android Play Store will optimize each APK as per the smartphone or device.

Simply put, Google wants to do away with the “universal” APK packages. The primary advantages are smaller downloads and quicker installs.

Google is clubbing the benefits under “Conditional Delivery” or “On-Demand Delivery”. The new delivery optimization techniques will let developers offer select features. They can also omit several modules to save space and reduce the APK file.

It is not immediately clear how Google will dynamically manipulate (read, reduce) the size of APK installers by eliminating features for users who “do not use those features”.

Conditional Delivery will ensure no two installers of Android apps are exactly identical?

Google is adopting Conditional Delivery to selectively offer features and functions in Android Apps. In other words, developers can keep or omit certain “modules” based on the location or hardware of the Android device.

Then there’s “Instant Delivery” which essentially lets developers configure and deploy a small base module and a feature module. This allows users to experience the app without having to download and install the same in its entirety.

Google is also doing away with OBB (Opaque Binary Blob). These are large “expansion files” or large assets of an Android app.

Google claims OBBs can be “non-secure” as they are not signed. Instead of OBB, developers can use Play Asset Delivery. Needless to mention, Google will host these assets securely.

The Android OS creator claims the “majority of the top 1,000 apps and games on Google Play” already use App Bundles. Some of the notable mentions include Twitter, Netflix, Adobe, and Duolingo. Additionally, more than a million apps are already using the Android App Bundle package delivery container, claimed Google.

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