Remember the last time you had a hard time deciding which app to uninstall to create space on your Android device? Well, Google is doing something for its operating system that won’t let you have such agonizing moments again. It is working on a feature that lets you archive apps to save space until you need them, meaning you don’t have to uninstall the app.
This method of ‘half-uninstalling’ will let you save up to 60 percent space that the app occupies on your phone. However, the app developer has to enable the feature.
Google is creating a new type of Android Package, commonly known as APK. The OS maker is calling it archived APKs. This new APK is significantly smaller and will save all your data until it is time to reinstall the app and restore it. You, as the user, don’t have to do anything as the restoration takes place automatically, and everything returns to its former state.
Developers can start taking advantage of archived APKs with the release of Bundletool 1.10, although users have to wait until Google makes the feature available generally later in the year.
However, developers can opt-out of archived APKs, if they so desire.
While the feature sounds exciting, there are still some unknowns about how it will work and how users will access it on their devices. But people who have apps that they seldom use will benefit from the feature as you can temporarily archive the apps you use most to create space for those you seldom use.
Archiving APKs should help save on the data costs of uninstalling and reinstalling apps for people without access to Wi-Fi.
Here is an excerpt from Google’s blog post on archiving APKs:
“Archiving is a new functionality that will allow users to reclaim ~60% of app storage temporarily by removing parts of the app rather than uninstalling it completely. An archived app will remain on the device and can easily be restored to the latest available compatible version, whilst preserving the user data.
“With the release of the upcoming version of Bundletool 1.10, we are taking the first step toward making archiving available to all developers using App Bundles. For apps built with the Android Gradle Plugin 7.3, we will start generating a new type of APK – archived APKs. Archived APKs are very small APKs that preserve user data until the app is restored. While we will start creating archived APKs now, they won’t be functional until the archiving functionality is launched to consumers later in the year.
“Once launched, archiving will deliver great benefits to both users and developers. Instead of uninstalling an app, users would be able to “archive” it – free up space temporarily and be able to re-activate the app quickly and easily. Developers can benefit from fewer uninstalls and substantially lower friction to pick back up with their favourite apps.
“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.
“If you want to opt-out of the generation of archived APKs, you can modify the build.gradle file of the project.”