Google is changing the way Android apps that you download from Google Play Store in a big way in August. For starters, Google is killing APK file format. This doesn’t mean that all existing APK-based files and apps will stop working. However, all new apps that will be published on Google Play store will have to be in AAB format or Android App Bundles. Google talked about AAB for the first time in 2018 and it is now implementing it finally. As for the APK format, Google is offering it a slow death.
Before we get to what exactly is AAB, note that this move is aimed at making Android apps perform better in low end phones. Also, AAB apps will take up less storage.
What is Android App Bundles or AAB
Android comes with support for over 100 languages, different CPU architectures like– ARM v7, ARMv8 along with Intel x86, and different screen resolutions. Now, an app developer needs to bundle support for this vast range of combinations into one APK app. This means your phone contains a lot of unnecessary codes from every app that you download which results in bigger apps and also consumes more storage space.
This is one of the biggest drawbacks of APK files and Google is trying to change with the AAB format. With Android App Bundle (AAB), Google will use “split APKs” and Google Play store will roll out the exact required codes for your device and will not provide anything extra. If your device is based on ARMv8 CPU architecture, with AAB Google will only provide the package for ARM v8 while downloading a particular app and not the entire APK file consisting of support for ARMv7, ARMv8 and Intel x86 architectures.
What’s the advantage of using AAB
AAB will lead to smaller size apps that perform better across Android phones with different hardware specifications. More importantly will help Google save money on bandwidth. For end users, they can expect a maximum storage saving of 15%. So, instead of a 100MB app, with App Bundles, it will be reduced to 85MB. But for Google, it makes a lot of sense. With App Bundles Google is expected to save petabytes of bandwidth every day.
Also, AAB will give Google more control of the Play Store. AAB is open source but a non-Google app store needs to have the ability to process apps on the cloud and deliver to end users accordingly. For Google, this is easy as it has its own “bundletool” open source app to help in the process but a third-party app store will need put in place its own cloud infrastructure and pay for servers and also deal with app signing. This means you can expect more developers to ditch third-party app stores and opt for Play Store instead if they wish to distribute their apps to the huge Android ecosystem.