Google has announced that starting in May 2023, Android TV and Google TV will require apps to be bundled in the Android App Bundle (AAB) format instead of the existing APK format. If you don’t know, for Android smartphones, this need is already in place.
Google claims that this strategy has a number of benefits. Users are less likely to delete AAB programmes because they allow apps to be archived, which cuts storage utilization by about 60%, and because they have an average 20% lower footprint.
AAB apps are also beneficial for all Android form factors since they are distributed in a more streamlined manner through the Google Play Store, as stressed by Google.
What are Android App Bundles?
“Android App Bundles” (AABs) have overtaken “Android Package Kits” (APKs) as the primary publishing format on Google Play (phones, tablets, TVs, etc.). App bundles are smaller, faster, more current, and superior to their predecessors. Key benefits include:
- Smaller Download/Storage Size: App bundles save 20% more space than APKs by optimizing’s for each device.
- Less Likely to Uninstall: App bundles allow users to archive (which reclaims 60% of app storage), so they can keep these and more apps on their TV despite limited storage. The TV has an archive/unarchive button. Developers can save states for easy returns.
- Applicable to All Android Surfaces: App bundles are helpful for all Google Play-enabled Android devices, including TVs, phones, tablets, watches, and cars.
- Streamlined Delivery & Security: The Play Store automatically serves an optimized app for each device configuration from a single artefact containing all of your app’s code and resources. Developers can reset a lost or compromised upload key for added protection.
What is new for TV?
With limited TV storage and a growing thirst for more apps, Google TV and Android TV will require app bundles beginning in May 2023. While this allows for a 6-month transition period, Google estimates that in most circumstances, it will take roughly 3-days for one engineer to transfer an existing TV app from Android Package Kit (APK) to Android App Bundle (AAB).
While developers can enable archiving for their mobile apps, TV apps must be archivable in order for all users and developers to benefit from storage-constrained TVs. Google could hide TV apps from the TV’s surface that have not transitioned in time.
Speaking on the announcement, Josh Wentz, Product Management, Google TV, said:
Over the past few decades, TV has transformed from linear channel surfing to on-demand content with multi-app experiences. Today, over 10,000 apps are available on Android TV OS. Less storage results in users having to uninstall apps, hindering their overall TV experience.
To help with this problem and others, Android introduced App Bundles in Nov 2020. And now, Google TV and Android TV will be requiring Android App Bundles that are archivable starting in May 2023 to save storage for users.