Google’s Android has been using APKs (Android application package) as the standard format for apps since day one. As of now, you can easily find APK files online and sideload them to your device, even when they’re not available in the Play Store. Soon, that may not be the case.
Google introduced the Android App Bundle format in 2018 to address some of the issues with the APK format, and now it is making it the standard format for apps in the Play Store.
Here, we shall highlight more about it and what benefits or downsides this move brings to the Android ecosystem.
Android App Bundle Is Set to Replace the APK
As per the official documentation, Google mentions that the new format will be mandatory for new applications starting August 2021, replacing the current APK format.
While there are a great deal of popular apps from Adobe, Duolingo, and others already using the Android App Bundle format, Google has not clarified if other existing apps will be converted to the new format anytime soon.
Google says that it will be extremely easy for developers to publish apps in the app bundle format.
Benefits of Using App Bundle Instead of APKs
The App Bundle format aims to offer benefits over APK files to both developers and users. Let us highlight a few of them.
Improved Security for the Android Platform
While it is easy to distribute APK files and to sideload apps, it is one of the most common ways Android gets affected by malware.
Users end up installing modified apps only to find that their device has been compromised in some way. Also, there are hundreds of APK sites out there, but only a few that are safe to use. So it is easy to get confused where to get a genuine APK to install.
You can refer to our list of safe sites for APK downloads, if you need.
With Android App Bundle, you may not be able to easily find APK files. This means that you do not have to worry about malicious APK files. Hence, it may guarantee that more users rely on the official Google Play Store to safely install software.
Not just for users, Google will also let developers store their app signing keys (that verifies the integrity and authenticity of the app) using Google’s secure infrastructure, as part of the benefits to Android App Bundle.
Reduced App Download Size
With App Bundle, Google generates and optimizes APKs of an app for various devices/configurations in the Play Store. Hence, it makes the app smaller than it used to be without the bundle format.
And smaller app sizes make it easy for users to download off the Play Store, even with a poor internet connection. You should also be able to save more storage space on your Android device.
Easier for Downloading Large Games
With an APK package, you must separately download the assets needed for a game larger than 150 MB, which is usually stored in a different folder.
This may have been a good approach, where the object files (OBB) remain separate and let users copy it to a different device easily when migrating. But it was not a secure method because the asset files were stored in the app’s external storage.
With App Bundle, the developer can make the entire thing available from the Play Store, which is both easy and secure.
You no longer need to download the extra files of a game separately—everything can be downloaded and installed right from the Play Store. This also makes the updates to those games smaller, which is a win for Android gamers.
Is There Any Downside to This Move?
Even though not every existing app is converted to use the App Bundle, new one will be moving away from it. For Android developers, it could be time-consuming to redistribute apps on other Android stores like Amazon Appstore.
While it is a relief to not find malicious APK files, it may be an inconvenience to not find APK files, which could make sideloading apps more complicated. But, eventually, we may end up seeing more benefits than problems.
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These Android apps are extremely popular, but they also compromise your security and privacy. If you have them installed, you’ll want to uninstall them after reading this.
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About The Author
(29 Articles Published)
A Computer Science graduate exploring the Cybersecurity space to help consumers secure their digital life in the simplest way possible. He’s had bylines at various publications since 2016.
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