The following news will affect developers and potentially those who enjoy easily sideloading APKs onto their Android phones. Google announced today that starting in August of this year, apps published to Google Play will be required to use the Android App Bundle, instead of the basic APK format.
In case you’re unaware, the Android App Bundle (.aab) was introduced for developers back in 2018, already in use by most of the top Android apps and games. Google says that of the top 1,000 apps and games on Google Play, the majority are already using Android App Bundles, so it’s not as if this is a drastic change that no one saw coming. From the development standpoint, Android App Bundles allow for smaller download sizes, improved security, as well as more control over feature and asset delivery to users.
Here’s exactly what’s happening in August.
Currently, the only concern is how this affects devices that sideload Android apps not from Google Play. I have to assume Google thought about how this will work, but as it stands, one cannot simply install an .aab onto their phone like they would an .apk. To my knowledge, Google Play is used to extract the .apk from the bundle, and without it, Google’s own bundletool is required to extract the necessary data from the bundle and onto a device.
We’ll see how this plays out for power users, but for most average Android users, nothing will change in their day-to-day experience.