Google is launching a number of new features for Android app developers today that will make it easier for them to build smaller apps that download faster and to release instant apps that allow potential users to trial a new app without having to install it.
Android App Bundles, a feature that allows developers to modularize their apps and deliver features on demand, isn’t a new feature. The company announced it a while ago; there are now “thousands of app bundles” in production with an average file size reduction of 35 percent. With today’s update, Google is making some changes to how app bundles handle uncompressed native libraries that are already on a device. Those will lead to downloads that are on average 8 percent smaller and take up 16 percent less space on a device.
Talking about size, Google now lets developers upload app bundles with installed APK sizes of up to 500 megabytes, though this is currently still in early access.
In addition, App Bundles are now supported in Android Studio 3.2 stable and Unity 2018.3 beta.
While small app sizes are nice, another feature Google is announcing today will likely have a larger impact on developers and users alike. That’s because the company is making some changes to Instant Apps, a feature that allows developers to ship a small part of their apps as a trial or to show a part of the app experience when users come in from search results — and there’s no need to download the full app and go through the (slow) install procedure.
With this update, Google is now using App Bundles to let developers build their instant apps. That means they don’t have to publish both an instant app and an installable app. Instead, they can enable their App Bundles to include an instant app and publish a single app to the store. Thanks to that, there’s also no additional code to maintain.
Developers also can now build instant apps for their premium titles and publish them for their pre-registration campaigns, something that wasn’t previously an option.
Other updates for Android developers include improved crash reports that now combine real-world data from users with that from the Firebase Test Lab when Google sees those crashes under both circumstances. There also are updates to how developers can set up subscription billing for their apps and a couple of other minor changes you can read about here.