Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) has added a new algorithm to the Google Play Store called bsdiff that will both reduce and display the sizes of Android app updates. The delta algorithm comes after last May’s Google I/O developer-focused conference, where Google introduced a host of new features for the company’s online store. These changes will mean the world to users that have limited data and small storage devices.
With over 1 billion monthly active users, Google has labeled its Play Store as “the world’s largest app distribution platform.” In 2015, Android users installed over 65 billion apps from the Google Play Store, pushing developers to update their apps more frequently.
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However, users became more and more concerned with the enormous amount of data they use for apps, especially when not on Wi-Fi.
No more guessing games
These concerns led Google to allow users to send developers private feedback through the Play store listing, as part of the new features unveiled during the 2016 Google I/O. Subsequently, Google, through a post on the Android Developers Blog, announced the company’s investment in the Google Play Store in the form of the bsdiff algorithm.
The new delta algorithm will reduce the data needed for app installs and updates, as well as display app sizes in a “more transparent” way for users to see, both central issues in most user-related feedback. Therefore, Google Play Store will show the actual storage space an app occupies, preventing users from downloading something too big, and allowing them to choose whether to reconsider or to free up space for the app they’re trying to download.
People will be able to see the real download size rather than the APK file size. Additionally, If the user already owns the app, he or she will only see the update size.
This is how it works
Most Android apps (98% of them) only download changes to their APK files when updated, merging the new files with the old ones. Accordingly, the new bsdiff algorithm will further reduce patches for APK files, found in apps, by up to 50% or more compared to the previous algorithm.It will also downsize initial installs and updates of APK Expansion Files, found in games, by 12% and 65%, respectively.
The blog post showed an example of what the bsdiff algorithm can do. The M46 to M47 major update to Google Chrome had a size of 22.8 MB, while the M47 minor update was 15.3 MB. With bsdiff, the updates were downsized to 12.9 MB and 3.6 MB, respectively.
A couple of twitches
According to the company, there are a couple of things people can do to reduce download size. In the first place, Google recommends users to optimize for the right size measurements, noting that download size and disk size are not the same as the original APK file size nor necessarily correlated.
Users could then proceed to reduce APK size by removing unnecessary data like unused resources and code.
The last tip would be to optimize parts of APK to make them smaller by using more efficient file formats, for example, WebP instead of JPEG, or by using Proguard to remove unused code.
Source: Tech Times