With a new ‘archiving’ function, Google wants you to have your app and be able to delete it as well

Google is making changes to Android apps that may save you space rather than eat up more of it, as most app updates do. You’ll soon be able to “archive” apps as needed, keeping your user data while reducing the space they take up when you don’t need them, thanks to changes to how App Bundles work, which currently save storage space. The app can also be simply restored if you decide you want it back.

If you don’t recall, App Bundles were Google’s attempt to reduce the amount of space and data consumed by apps when they were installed and updated. Rather than distributing programs in large monolithic forms that support all devices, App Bundles compress apks so that the Play Store only gives you the pieces you need, tailored to your device’s size, architecture, and other characteristics. Sideloading apps is a little more difficult with App Bundles, but even former Android Police sister site APK Mirror figured out how to get around it.

This new archiving capability expands on what App Bundles already offers by introducing a new type of split APK that preserves user data while allowing other sections of the app to be removed. If and when programs are archived in this fashion, Google estimates a 60 percent storage savings, but this would likely vary. The app can be relaunched later thanks to the preserved portions.

The functionality won’t be available until “later this year,” possibly as part of Android 13, according to the Android Developers Blog, but Google may have a means to send it to earlier devices via a core module or Play Services update. However, some of its dependencies will begin to appear with next Gradle Plugin and Bundletool releases, and it doesn’t appear like developers will need to do anything specific to make it work. If your app already uses App Bundles, as a lot of them do these days, the format will simply alter to accommodate this new archiving paradigm, but we’re not sure how it will seem to users.


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