Over the past few years, Google has been transitioning to Android App Bundles as part of modernizing development practices. In May of 2023, App Bundles that support archiving will be required for Android/Google TV devices.
Storage is the big reason for this change, with Google noting how smart televisions in 2022 have an average of 8GB compared to 64GB for smartphones. TVs are often priced aggressively with specifications, as Chromecast owners can attest to, that reflect the low starting price.
Over the past few decades, TV has transformed from linear channel surfing to on-demand content with multi-app experiences. Today, over 10,000 apps are available on Android TV OS. While software has grown exponentially, TV hardware has remained limited in capacity compared to its phone counterparts.
Android App Bundles (AABs) were introduced at I/O 2018 to replace Android Package Kits (APKs) as the standard publishing format on the Play Store. Google notes that:
- App Bundles are fully supported for Android 5.0 (API Level 21) and above. Certain App Bundle features are not compatible for Android versions before Android 5.0 (Lollipop).
- Many TV apps have been developed with Android 5.0 (API Level 21) or higher. For context, Google TV launched on Android 10 (API Level 29) in 2020.
Google says “App Bundles create an average of 20% total size savings compared to its equivalent APK counterpart by optimizing for each device.” Meanwhile, this goes hand-in-hand with the built-in archive feature that “reclaims ~60% of app storage.”
AABs support Android on phones, tablets, watches, and auto form factors, while “Streamlined Delivery & Security” is the other advantage:
For easier delivery, a single artifact with all of your app’s code & resources allows Play store to dynamically serve an optimized app for each device configuration. For greater security, developers can also reset the upload key if it’s lost or compromised.
Starting in May of 2023, Android and Google TV will be requiring Android App Bundles with mandatory archiving, which is an optional feature on mobile. This six-month transition is particularly short, but Google “estimate[s] that in most cases it will take one engineer about 3-days to migrate an existing TV app” from an APK to AAB.
For TV apps not transitioned in time, Google may hide such apps from the TV surface. If you’re working on a brand new TV app, be sure to use Android App Bundles from the start!
More on Google TV:
- Sky’s Now TV streaming service arrives on Android TV and Google TV
- Where to watch the 2022 World Cup on Android, Google TV, and ChromeOS
- Chromecasts won’t support Netflix’s new ad-supported tier unless they run Google TV
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