Google announced today that it is replacing the Android Package (APK) application package format for Android with the Android App Bundle (AAB) effective this August and in tandem with the release of Android 12.
“Since we launched the Android App Bundle in May 2018, we’ve seen our developer community embrace this new standard to benefit from streamlined releases and advanced distribution features,” Google’s Dom Elliott explains. “There are now over one million apps using app bundles in production, including the majority of the top 1,000 apps and games on Google Play such as Adobe, Duolingo, Gameloft, Netflix, redBus, Riafy, and Twitter.”
Google cites the following benefits to this format:
It’s more efficient. AABs are 15 percent smaller, on average, than APKs and are thus faster to download.
Play App Signing. AABs require Play App Signing, which protects app signing keys from loss by using Google’s secure infrastructure and offers the option of upgrading to a new, cryptographically stronger app signing key.
Play Feature Delivery. AABs can take advantage of Play Feature Delivery, which is used by over 10 percent of the top AAB apps. Play Feature Delivery gives developers the ability to customize which feature modules are delivered to which devices and when, with install-time, conditional, and on-demand delivery modes, Google says.
Play Asset Delivery. Another AAB-only feature, this reduces user waiting time by dynamically delivering large assets while cutting delivery costs. Games that use Play Asset Delivery can use texture compression format targeting so that users only get the assets suitable for their devices with no wasted space or bandwidth, Google notes.
Existing apps don’t need to make the shift to AAB at this time. But starting in August, Google Play will require developers publishing new apps in the Store to use the newer AAB format.