Google has spent the past couple of years tackling the problem of Android apps consuming too much space on smartphones. Now it has a new approach.
In a previous update, Android added the “suggestion feature” which gave options of infrequently used apps that should be uninstalled to free up space.
It was a required upgrade but, it meant users may have to enter a dilemma in order to remove apps they would rather keep.
And it also meant developers faced higher uninstalls, possibly only because the user’s hardware lacked enough storage space. This is particularly a problem on lower to mid-range Android phones.
The new alternative
Through a new update, Android could be helping users free up space through ‘archiving’ – a more effective approach where apps are partially rather than completely uninstalled.
Archiving will keep the users data but remove parts of the app, instead of uninstalling. Google claims archiving should result in users reclaiming about 60% of app storage temporarily.
The archived app remains on the device so it can be restored when needed and should come back to life with all user data if and when the user wants it again.
It does this through archived Android Packages (APKs), which will be enabled in a future version of Bundletool – a tool that the Android Studio IDE, the Android Gradle Plugin and Google Play use to build an app bundle and convert it to APKs for devices.
The version of Bundletool, 1.10, is the one that will have the archiving feature.
When is the archiving option coming?
Google notes that Android users would not see the update until later in 2022. It is presumed that by then, details of how archiving works will be said. But, developers can start creating archived APKs now.
“As before, all APKs generated will be available to download and inspect through Generated APKs API or in Play Console under App Bundle Explorer. Since the functionality is open source, developers will be able to inspect the code, and other app stores can benefit from it too,” Google says.
There are a few comments on the archiving feature…
Martin_a: Looks like fighting the symptoms, not taking care of the root causes. There’s probably so much bloat in frameworks, (illegal) telemetry and whatnot under the hood of those apps that should be tackled. For example: Why is the the Amazon app 229 MB heavy? 195 MB is the app itself, then there’s ~61 MB of “data” and only ~26,5 MB of cache. It’s a website, nothing more. How can it take 200+ MB of space? It’s sick. How does Android even calculate those numbers? They don’t add up at all.
Dteam69: Why does this kind of feature requires developer collaboration? It could have been a Android 13 thing, iOS does it for all apps and devs don’t have to think about this. Not all apps will support it, it’s gonna be annoying.
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