Play Store: Google announces the death of the APK in August 2021, time for the AAB

In a blog post, Google reported accelerating the transition from the APK to the AAB. The historical format of Android apps is destined to disappear in favor of the lighter and more secure App Bundle. In fact, the Mountain View firm wants developers to favour its platform over third-party blinds.

The APK will soon be over, at least on the Play Store. Google has been moving away from this historical format for some time now. Android 11, in particular, has greatly complicated the task of users wishing to install applications not from the Play Store. And for good reason: in 2018, the company introduced the Android App Bundle (AAB), a new format deemed more compliant with Google’s quality requirements.

Until now, developers wishing to offer their application on the Play Store still had the choice between the two formats. This will soon no longer be the case, as the editor explains in a blog post. Starting in August 2021, all new applications posted on the platform will be required to be in AAB format. Those already present on the store are «for the moment» exempt from this new policy, although Google seems determined to force developers to make the transition sooner or later.

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To justify this decision, Google advances the argument of efficiency. On average, AAB files are 15% lighter than APK files. This difference among other things reduces the download time for users. According to the firm, this will lead to “more installations and fewer de-installations”. What’s more, this new format strengthens the security of applications thanks to the Google Play App Signing process, which limits the risk of malware infection.

Users should therefore benefit, but the situation is complicated on the developers’ side. On the one hand, there are those who have already started their project in APK and who will have to manage to transition to the AAB along the way. But above all, it adds a programming format for those wishing to offer their application on various devices. With each store imposing different APIs, it is likely that the majority of them end up opting for the Play Store, more popular than its competitors, to ensure the success of their work.

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