Google details when developers have to use Android App Bundles

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Google on Thursday detailed when developers will have to use Android App Bundles for publishing on the Play Store.

The search giant said beginning August 2021, the Google Play Console will require all new apps to publish with the Android App Bundle (.aab) format. Google first introduced the alternative app distribution format at I/O 2018 and later announced the upcoming mandatory requirement earlier this year.

As we explained, the goal of the Android App Bundle is to reduce the file size of the final Android Application Package (.apk) delivered to the user, reducing the installation size and download time for users.

The .aab file contains APK files for the base application size and all supported architectures (ARM, ARM64, and x86), languages, and layout variants. This format requires giving a copy of your app’s signing key to Google so the Google Play Developer Console can generate a bundle with signed versions of each APK in the bundle; the correct APK for a particular device’s architecture, language, and layout are delivered via Google Play Dynamic Delivery.

Google said that the switch to Android App Bundle delivery will also impact instant experiences using legacy Instant app ZIP format. Beginning August 2021, the search giant said new instant experiences and updates to existing instant experiences will be required to publish instant-enabled app bundles.

From a consumer standpoint, not much will change. But developers and diehard users might notice some differences. Android App Bundles will make redistribution on other platforms more difficult, while AABs are harder to manually sideload, which could cause some headaches.

Google also said beginning August 2021, Google Play Console will require all new apps to utilize Play Asset Delivery or Play Feature Delivery to deliver assets or features that exceed a download size of 150MB. Expansion files (OBBs) will no longer be supported for new apps. Developers will also be required to Target API level 30 (Android 11) starting August 2021 for new apps uploaded to Google Play; meanwhile, updates to existing apps will have to target API level 30 starting November 2021.

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