Android App Bundle and This Advantages

What is Android App Bundle?

Starting in August 2021, Google required all Android apps to be published to the Play Store, and people must use the “Android App Bundle” format. Previously, apps could use the AAB format or the old, standard APK format.

So what exactly is an Android App Bundle and how does it differ from an APK? An APK (Android App Package) is basically a special ZIP file that includes all the files and code needed to run the app. Your device downloads all these assets whether it needs them all or not.

An Android App Bundle has all the same assets, but also includes components called “Dynamic Features” and “Asset Packages.” The advantage of this feature caused Google to move away from APKs in favor of AABs.

An easy way to think of an App Bundle is that it includes all the components for building an APK. When you download an App Bundle from the Play Store, it builds an APK targeted for a specific device.

What Are the Advantages of Android App Bundle?

Android App Bundles have several advantages. First and foremost, AABs build smaller APKs. Because Bundle builds applications specifically for your device, not all components may be required, resulting in smaller file sizes.

Not all of these components need to be downloaded upfront, either. The “Dynamic Delivery” concept means that you get smaller initial applications that can download and install the new features you need them. So if you never use certain features, they are not downloaded to your device.

In short, the advantage of AABs is that they are simply more flexible and dynamic. Smaller file size is easier to download in advance, and components are presented on an as-needed basis adding up to a smart APK.

Does Bundled App Replace APK?

When Google announced that the Play Store would require Android App Bundles instead of APKs, there was a common misconception: Does this mean that you won’t be able to install APKs on your device anymore? No, not at all.

In fact, as described above, App Pools create APKs. APK is what runs Android, but AAB is what developers upload to Play Store.

Bundled apps may replace APKs in the Play Store, but not on Android devices themselves. You can still sideload APK files onto the device you just wanted to always. In fact, you can sideload AAB files too. Rest assured that this is just a change to the Play Store, not how Android as an OS deals with app files.

The following are common issues when building or serving apps with the Android App Bundle. If you encounter an issue not described below, please report a bug.

  • Partial installation of sideloaded apps—that is, apps that weren’t installed using the Google Play Store and don’t have one or more separate APKs required—failed on all Google-certified devices and devices running Android 10 (API level 29) or higher. When downloading your app through the Google Play Store, Google ensures that all the required app components are installed.
  • If you use tools that dynamically modify the resource table, APKs built from app bundles may display unexpected behavior. Therefore, when creating app bundles, we recommend that you disable such tools.
  • Currently, you can configure properties in the build configuration of the feature module as opposed to the properties of the base (or other) module. For example, you can set buildTypes.release.debuggable = true in the base module and set it to false in the feature module. Such conflicts can cause build and runtime issues. Note that, by default, feature modules inherit some build configurations from the base module. So make sure you understand the configurations to keep, and the configurations to delete, in the feature module build configuration.