Google has announced that it is phasing out the APK format for Android applications. Starting in August 2021, developers will have to upload distributions to the Play Store only in a new format – AAB (Android App Bundle).
The AAB format appeared in 2018 with the release of Android 9.0, and some developers are already using it. It has many advantages over APK – for example, improved adaptation for different devices and the ability to download to the device only those components that are required by the application on a particular smartphone. You don’t have to download unnecessary components (for example, additional language packs) from the store, which means that the application installs faster, uses less traffic, and leaves more free space in the drive. Additional components can be loaded into the installed application from the Play Store later as needed.
According to Google, many developers have already switched to AAB, more than a million applications have been uploaded to the Play Store in this format, including Twitter, Netflix, various Adobe projects, as well as some games from Gameloft studio.
The requirement to download applications in the new format applies only to developers and only to the official app store, users will still be able to download APK files from third-party sources and unofficial markets – there will be no restrictions on their installation (at least for the foreseeable future). Apps uploaded to the Play Store in APK format will also install without any problems. However, as the popularity of AAB grows, distributions in this format will appear everywhere and gradually replace the outdated format.