- Google Play Store is shifting to AAB format from APK
- Developers are required to publish apps in AAB format from August
- Alternative app stores continue to publish apps in APK
Google is replacing APK file format with AAB for Android apps. For several years, Android apps have been available in APK file format, where APK refers to Android Packages. In 2018, the search engine giant announced a new file format named Android App Bundle (AAB) as the new file format for Android apps.
Since then, the developer community has been gradually working on apps in the ABB file format. Now, Google has confirmed that starting from August this year, all the apps that are submitted in the Google Play Store must come in the AAB format.
AAB vs APK: what’s new
Google claims that the users of the AAB format can benefit from streamlined release and advanced distribution features. As compared to the APK, files in ABB format are 15 percent smaller and can be downloaded at faster speeds. In addition, developers will have better control over how updates are distributed to apps.
ABB brings an advantage in the form of Play Asset Delivery, which essentially replaces OBB files that download additional resources. With Play Asset Delivery, games larger than 150MB can replace OBBs by publishing the entire app as a single app bundle. This will ensure that only those resources which can be used on a particular device, such as textures, can be downloaded. For users, this means savings in the form of downloaded file sizes.
Developers who wish to submit their Android apps in other app stores like Amazon App Store or Huawei’ App Gallery will have to export APK editions of their apps manually. To recall, Windows 11 which will support Android apps will do so via the Amazon Appstore, which means developers who want their apps available to Windows users will need to make them available in APK format as well.
Notably, existing apps won’t need to migrate from APKs as of now, but all new apps submitted to the Play Store will need to be in AAB format.
Here’s a quick look at what’s changing on the Play Store from August 2021
Type of release
Required starting August 2021
on Google Play
Android App Bundle (AAB)
Expansion files (OBBs)
Play Asset Delivery or
Play Feature Delivery
Updates to existing apps
New instant experiences
Instant app ZIP
Instant-enabled Android App Bundle (AAB)
Updates to instant experiences