Android apps will now be up to 50 percent smaller

Android apps will now be up to 50 percent smaller

Android Apps

Google has recently made changes to its Play Store app delivery system in an effort to speed up updates and reduce data consumption by making them smaller. This is because Google Play continues to grow rapidly, as Android users installed over 65 billion apps in the last year from the Google Play Store. Developers move to update their apps more frequently to push great new content, patch security vulnerabilities, and iterate quickly on user feedback.

Google Play is investing in improvements to reduce the data that needs to be transferred for app installs and updates, while making data cost more transparent to users. Google is working on an algorithm which will reduce the size of updates by as much as 50 percent by downloading only the required changes to APK files and merging them with existing files – this would be a more efficient system than previously implemented.

“For approximately 98 percent of app updates from the Play Store, only changes (deltas) to APK files are downloaded and merged with the existing files, reducing the size of updates. We recently rolled out a delta algorithm, bsdiff, that further reduces patches by up to 50 percent or more compared to the previous algorithm,” the company explains on its Android developer blog page.

“Bsdiff is specifically targeted to produce more efficient deltas of native libraries by taking advantage of the specific ways in which compiled native code changes between versions. To be most effective, native libraries should be stored uncompressed (compression interferes with delta algorithms),”it continues.

An example from Chrome:

Patch DescriptionPrevious patch sizeBsdiff Size
M46 to M47 major update22.8 MB12.9 MB
M47 minor update15.3 MB3.6 MB

Apps that don’t have uncompressed native libraries can see a 5% decrease in size on average, compared to the previous delta algorithm.

Google’s impressive new algorithm has also been expanded to APK Expansion Files – often used for large files in things like games – for the first time. This addition can reduce the download size of initial installs by 12 percent, and updates by 65 percent on average.

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