As early as the Google I/O conference in May 2018, Google introduced the Android App Bundle (AAB) format as part of its modern development. In August of this year, the AAB format will become the default format for newly launched apps on the Google Play Store, and old apps that have already been launched will not be affected for the time being.

Google stated in the announcement:

In order to bring these benefits to more users and focus on modern Android distribution that can benefit all developers, Google Play will require newly released applications to be distributed in the form of Android App Bundles from August 2021. This will replace APK as the standard publishing format.

With AAB, Google Play will make apps downloaded to the phone take up less space based on the configuration and language of the user’s device. This optimization means that apps distributed through AAB take up an average of 15% less space than the traditional APK format. End users can also get faster installation speed and more disposable storage space. Here are some advantages of the AAB format:

  • Android App Bundle: Google Play uses App Bundle to generate and optimize APKs for distribution to different device configurations and languages. This makes your application take up less space (on average 15% less than APK)
  • Play App Signing: Play App Signing is a necessary condition for App Bundle. It uses Google’s security infrastructure to protect the application signing key from loss, and it provides an upgrade to a brand new application with stronger encryption Options for signing keys
  • Play Feature Delivery: Play Feature Delibery enables you to customize which functional modules are delivered to which device and when through installation time, conditions, and on-demand delivery mode
  • Play Asset Delivery: Through the dynamic delivery of large assets, reducing the waiting time of users, while reducing delivery costs. Games that use Play Asset Delivery can be positioned using texture compression formats, so your users only get assets suitable for their devices, without wasting space or bandwidth
  • Future improvements: Soon, Play App Signing will begin rolling out APK Signature Scheme v4 to selected applications, making it possible to selectively access upcoming Android performance features on newer devices

According to Google’s statistics, more than 1 million applications are currently using the AAB format. This includes most of the top 1000 apps and games on the Play Store, including Twitter, Netflix, Gameloft games, Adobe and Duolingo, etc.

In addition to the APK will be replaced with the new AAB, developers also need to replace the large expansion file (OBB) with Play Asset or Feature Delivery. Since AAB supports Android Instant App, the existing instant application ZIP will also be replaced. The apps that are currently on the Play Store and the dedicated apps for managing corporate users will not be affected for the time being

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