Abandon APK to switch to Google’s new “one arrow hits two targets” format

Abandon APK to switch to Google’s new “one arrow hits two targets” format

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2021-07-07 05:48:47

According to Google’s new announcement, from the beginning of August, the file format of Android applications will change from APK (Android Package) to AAB (Android App Bundles) if they want to be distributed through the Google Play Store. .

Although it sounds strange, but actually this format has been introduced to the Android ecosystem by Google since 2018 with the advantage of saving space for each application. This is very important to the Android world as it has to be compatible with many different hardware and software standards.

Save 15% on downloads

Android currently supports more than 150 programming languages, 4 different CPU architectures (ARMv7, ARMv8, x86 and x86-64) as well as countless different screen resolutions. All of this support is packaged into a single APK file (although sometimes it also splits according to different CPU architectures).

This also means that many lines of code in the application will become redundant when each installed device is only partially similar in screen size and CPU architecture. This may not be a problem for high-end devices but it will be a burden for low-end devices with limited memory.

The Android App Bundle is Google’s solution to this problem when APK files are previously split into different parts – or “split APKs” – split APK files. Each section will target a different set of changes and combine to form a final application.

Abandon APK to switch to a new format, one arrow hits Google's two targets - Photo 2.

With Android App Bundles, the appropriate parts of the application will be downloaded to the device, eliminating redundant lines of code

From here Google will distribute individual parts of the app to compatible devices. For example, through App Bundles, if your device has a high-resolution screen, uses an ARMv8 CPU with English language, the Play Store will offer a Split APK that supports that type of hardware. The Play Store can also create a dedicated APK section for each user, helping them get the necessary lines of code and remove redundant lines of code. According to Google, this solution will save 15% of application space compared to normal APK files.

Even these App Bundles applications can be separated according to the features they have. This allows app features to be delivered only to devices that support them, or sent later to devices if the user needs them.

Abandon APK to switch to a new format, one arrow hits Google's two targets - Photo 3.

New way to package apps to save download and install space significantly

Consolidate Google’s control over Android

Despite the many benefits, changing from APK to Android App Bundles also brings with it many annoyances, as it makes the Android ecosystem more and more complicated, especially with Android applications running on devices. outside the Google Play ecosystem. But that also brings another benefit to Google, which is to reinforce more control power over the complex ecosystem of Android.

That’s because Android App Bundles need to be processed in the App Store cloud to get the above features. Even though App Bundles are an open source format and Google also provides tools to compile it, if the company doesn’t have its own cloud infrastructure, it won’t be able to meet the requirements of the company. this application format.

Abandon APK to switch to a new format, one arrow hits Google's two targets - Photo 4.

Furthermore, since Google’s cloud not only takes care of the storage of App Bundles, but also transmits the appropriate components of the application to the device, Google also assumes the responsibility of signing the certificate. for apps on behalf of developers. While this adds an important security component to Android apps, it also gives Google more control over the ecosystem.

This also means that the Android App Bundles format will place a huge burden of power and responsibility on app store owners. If the app store infrastructure is compromised, a third party can obtain the developer’s signature signature and deliver malicious updates to all users without their knowledge. As for Google, they are doing a much better job of security so far than other app developers. But it’s hard for other app stores to do the same.

Abandon APK to switch to a new format, one arrow hits Google's two targets - Photo 5.

Controlling the Play Store, Google pretty much owns the roads and highways of the Android ecosystem, but with the App Bundles, Google also controls the apps — or the cars that run on them. And by August, this Google solution will be officially deployed on the Android ecosystem. Google says that “old apps will be exempt” from this App Bundles format.

For Google, Android App Bundles are really important. Saving 15% in download space might not be a big deal for users, but during I/O 2018, Google said that if all apps were converted to App Bundles, the company would save money. 10 Petabytes of bandwidth per day.

While more compact storage will save Google some bandwidth costs, this new way of packaging applications offers an even bigger benefit for the tech giant: it strengthens control. more closely to today’s vast and complex Android ecosystem. This is increasingly important in the context of many Android app stores mushrooming to challenge Google’s Play Store.

Refer to Arstechnica

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