Google is phasing out APKs on the Play Store – what does this mean?
Developers will now have to use Android App Bundles, a new format that Google launched in 2018.
Google recently announced that developers are required to use a new format, Android App Bundle (AAB) replacing APK, for new apps on the Play Store starting in August 2021.
What does this mean for developers?
According to the Android Developers Blog, Google Play will use your app bundle to generate and serve optimised APKs for each device configuration, so only the code and resources that are needed for a specific device are downloaded to run your app. This means that users will still download apps as APKs on their phones, but optimised specially for their device.
Another thing, Android App Bundles (AAB) are a format that only Google Play uses, which means that unless you use Google Play, you might not have access to some apps.
This new requirement only applies to new apps, existing apps will still have the same format. 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, according to Android Developers Blog.
What else is coming up?
Windows 11 is even going to support the format as part of its upcoming Android compatibility, according to Ars Technica. Google will also have more control over your app now.
As a developer you will have access to Play App Signing, which is required for app bundles, protects your app signing key from loss by using Google’s secure infrastructure and offers the option of upgrading to a new, cryptographically stronger app signing key, The Developers Blog stated.
Play App Signing will also start rolling out APK Signature Scheme v4 to select apps, making it possible for them to have the option to access upcoming performance features available on newer devices. There is a Google for Games Developer Summit coming up on 12 July 2021, that will be touching more on this.