Google is changing the app format for apps on its Store space. Google has declared that it is moving away from the popular format on the Store starting August this year. The format will be Android App Bundles. However, the company rolled out a couple of years ago. APKs are still going to be supported for older apps, newer applications will have to stick to the AAB (Android App Bundle) starting from August. So obviously the APK format that has been the sole format of apps on the Google Play Store and also synonymous with sideloading on Android devices is coming to an end. The format will be replaced with Google’s more recent AAB format after the Tech Giant’s new decision. From August this year, all apps will be required to be submitted in the newer AAB format.
Many apps on the Google Play Store are already using the newer format. Meanwhile, apps that are in the APK section can stay that way for now. However, Google could pull the plug on that too in subsequent years, although the company has not revealed anything on that front yet. “Since we launched the Android App Bundle in May 2018, we’ve seen our developer community embrace this new standard to benefit from streamlined releases and advanced distribution features. There are now over 1 million apps using app bundles in production, including the majority of the top 1,000 apps and games on Google Play such as Adobe, Duolingo, Gameloft, Netflix, redBus, Riafy, and Twitter,” Google said on its Android Developers’ Blog.
The announcement that Google is moving away from APKs might have something to do with Windows 11 accommodating Android apps. There was the provision that you could sideload applications onto Windows 11 but with the shift from APK to Android App Bundles it might mean fewer applications are available for Microsoft’s new version of Windows. The biggest benefit of Android App Bundles according to Google is that they allow for the creation of smaller apps. They are 15% smaller On average than the universal APK versions and they download a lot faster. Google also says that the app bundle requirement applies only to new apps or entries on its Play Store. Existing apps are exempted as well as private applications being published to managed Google Play users. For developers creating new Android apps in Zimbabwe it doesn’t look like this will change how you distribute your applications. According to Google, anyone can publish applications on the Play Store in the required Android Bundle format. And anyone will still be able to download APKs for distribution on other platforms. “You can either use the same app signing key everywhere or use unique app signing keys for different channels, including a unique app signing key for Google Play. You can either build and sign artifacts for all distribution channels locally or you can download distribution APKs from Google Play for use on other channels. Distribution APKs downloaded from Google Play, either via the app bundle explorer in Play Console or via the Play Developer API, are signed with the same key used by Play App Signing,” Google said.