At the Google I/O Developers Conference today, the company announced a new tool for app developers to radically reduce the size of their apps. They are calling this the Android App Bundle, where the trick is that developers can now say which of their apps’ assets should be downloaded to a given device. This will lower the download size because there will now be no need to download every visual asset for every screen size, no longer a need for support for every language to every user. These are things that are being done today, and Android App Bundles can reduce download sizes by as much as half the original APK size.
Google has revealed from research that large download sizes are a big issue for users not just in developing countries, but even in other developed territories. Balking at large install sizes is apparently a very universal thing – the larger the app, the fewer the installs get. So Google is enforcing the new Android App Bundle to help developers get more conversions as install sizes go down.
The APK file type will remain, but every user will now get a file somewhat custom-built for their own device and needs. Google says that it already did trials of the Android App Bundle with their own apps and even YouTube. Microsoft apparently saw a 23 percent file reduction for their LinkedIn app. This could indeed be revolutionary for developers who no longer have to build different APKs for different devices.
We’re pretty excited for this feature, as it makes distributing apps that much better. Smaller apps that work the same way as the original-sized apps is always a better thing, and might create a boom in app downloads when the feature becomes standard to Google Play.