Google is Working on a New Feature to Help Users Save Space Without Uninstalling Apps

Google is trying to solve one of the biggest problems facing Android users, which is that they have to uninstall apps to free up space on their devices.

Google is suggesting a solution to this problem by working on a feature that will enable users to archive apps to reduce their space, just like on iOS devices.

Archiving is a new functionality that will allow users to recover approximately 60% of the app's cache space by removing parts of the app rather than uninstalling it completely. The archived application will remain on the device and can be easily restored to the latest available compatible version while preserving user data.

Developers using App Bundles will be able to create archived apps when bundletool version 1.10 is released. For apps built with the Android Gradle Plugin 7.3, Google will start creating a new type of APK called archived APK, which are very small APK files that keep user data until the app is restored.

Although Google will be creating archived APK files from now on, these files will not be functional until the company officially announces the archiving feature to consumers later this year.

The archive feature represents a practical solution for both users and developers, as it will enable users to free up more space without having to uninstall applications in addition to being able to easily restore them when needed, while developers will benefit from fewer uninstalls for their applications and save them the effort to convince users to download and use their apps again after uninstalling.

According to Google, all generated APKs (including the archived APKs) will be available to download and inspect through Generated APKs API or in Play Console under App Bundle Explorer, and since the archiving functionality is open source, developers will be able to inspect the code, and other app stores can take advantage of from it too.

Developers will also be able to opt-out of the generation of archived APKs by modifying the build.gradle file of the project, or via a new option in the BundleConfig if they are not using Gradle to build their apps.

Google has not provided a specific timeline for the availability of the archiving feature, nor about the minimum requirements to take advantage of it, and it is not known if the upcoming Android 13 release later this year is a prerequisite for using archived applications or if this feature will be supported on more devices via a Google Play update in the future.

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