28 July 2021
Google has made it official that new Android apps will need to be in Android App Bundle (AAB) format to get approved for Play Store listings. It has decided to bid farewell to the APK format that has been the universal standard for Android apps since the early days of the operating system. The team has published a blog post explaining all the benefits that developers will get through the new format.
The post reveals that the AAB format will become mandatory for all developers starting August 2021. It will become the new standard but only the new apps need to follow the change. All existing apps on the Play Store can continue with the APK format if they wish to do so. This does put those developers in a tricky position who are close to releasing new apps but might not be able to do so before the deadline arrives. They seem to have less time in hind to make necessary changes and switch from APK to AAB format.
It is said that Android App Bundle results in smaller app sizes, a difference of up to 15% on average as compared to APKs. This will result in faster download times and thus, more installs and fewer uninstalls. There is one benefit called Play Feature Delivery which offers the ability to customize what feature modules are delivered to which device and when, with install-time, conditional, and on-demand delivery modes. It is a feature that Google says is used by over 10% of the top apps following the AAB format.
For the uninitiated, Google introduced the AAB format way back in 2018. It was an optional thing for developers but yet, the official number of AAB-backed apps has managed to cross the 1 million mark. The majority of these apps belong to the top 1,000 Android apps category and include the likes of Adobe, Duolingo, Gameloft, Netflix, redBus, Riafy, and Twitter. However, the new format is currently supported only by Google Play and will surely affect the wider availability of apps available only in that particular format.