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Earlier this year, Google announced it had shrunk app updates by 47 percent, but it turns out that was just the start as the Android platform owner has further boosted its compression abilities.
Google is using a new updating technique called ‘File-by-File patching’ to shrink updates by 65 percent on average but it can reduce sizes up to 90 percent in some cases.

Google App Downloads Will Go Easier on Mobile Data and Storage: Up To 90 Percent Smaller App Updates

Google is shrinking app downloads and app updates up to 90 percent smaller so they take up less storage and need less data to install. Apps can make or break a smartphone and even the most amazing apps have slight drawbacks such as data usage or storage size. If you turn on automatic app updates, your monthly data allowance could evaporate faster and your phone storage starts filling up in no time.

While you can solve the mobile data matter by setting your smartphone to only update apps when connected to Wi-Fi, there’s not much you can do for preserving your phone’s storage so that apps and app updates don’t take up too much space. Getting a microSD card could partially solve the issue, but some Android smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 don’t have a microSD card slot.

Google is aware of these potential inconveniences and it’s trying to offer solutions. Google has now announced that its latest improvements will allow for app updates that are between 65 and 90 percent smaller, thus requiring less data for downloading and installing the update and taking up less space on the device.
Just a few months ago, Google announced that it was shrinking apps by using an algorithm to optimize the size of an Android Application Package (APK). The company is now taking things to the next level with a new technique called File-by-File patching, yielding even better results. A user’s device is sent a patch which describes the differences between your current version and the new version; to ensure only the necessary data is downloaded.

Imagine you are an author of a book about to be published and wish to change a single sentence - it's much easier to tell the editor which sentence to change and what to change, rather than send an entirely new book. In the same way, patches are much smaller and much faster to download than the entire APK.

Andrew HaydenSoftware Engineer at Google Play

The new compression leads to 6 petabytes of data being saved per day across Google Play – reducing the strain on networks, saving data usage, and getting users going faster with the latest versions. With apps increasing significantly in size – particularly games – this will be welcome news for both consumers and developers.

Here’s an example of a Netflix patch compared with the previous compression technique:

  • Original size – 16.2MB
  • Previous compressed size (% vs original) – 7.7MB (52%)
  • File-by-File Patch Size (% vs original) – 1.2MB (92%)

Android developers are not required to do anything for their users to benefit from the File-by-File patching system, but it’s currently being limited to users with ‘auto-updates’ enabled. This is due to hardware limitations on legacy devices, but as these get phased out this will likely change.

Google’s new approach could lead to an increase of Play Store app downloads, and users could end up keeping the apps they install for longer. A recent study revealed that Android users uninstall apps more than their iOS counterparts, but that could well change if less data and storage are required.

Do let me know your views on reduction of app size by Google, below in the comments section and take a look at the new Google UI.

Akash Kumar

Akash Kumar

Akash Kumar is an enthusiastic Graphics Designer, Website Designer, Android Developer and Web Development Enthusiast with love for technology.

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