Home GoAndroid Android App Updates Now Much Smaller

Android App Updates Now Much Smaller

Dec 7, 2016

Good news if you have an Android device, as Google just announced a File-by-File patching system that can drastically cut down the size of app update packages. When you look at this new system the Google engineers were able to find, it can actually cut down application update packages by 65 percent on average.

Google Shrinks App Update Packages Significantly

The new technology, according to Google, already has saved over 6 petabytes of data per day. The File-by-File patching system can even shrink some app updates by over 90 percent in some cases, which is huge if you are an Android user and hate the large app update packages. The issue right now is that Google really does not know just how much the File-by-File patch can save overall because it has only been used up to this point in a very limited scope. The File-by-File patch system is only so far for the auto-updates, which are updates that Android does automatically in the background.

android-apps-smallerThat means that even more data can be saved and user bandwidth because this new technology has not been put out there yet for the manual updates. When it comes to how Android updates, it is like that of a browser on your computer, meaning the server takes a look at the old application and updated application. The server will then offer a delta, which is a list of changes between the old version and the new version of the Android app.

The Google Play Store will then send those files that only the person needs to update the application to the new version, and then the Android device will unpack the APK file. Once the APK file is unpacked, the changes will occur and file changes happen, and then the application is repackaged for the user.

These updates for applications are known as delta updates, with them being around for the past four years. Google was able to make a new calculation for delta by using a new algorithm called bsdiff. This new algorithm allows Google to cut down the size of the app updates by changing how the calculations work, and the average savings is about 47 percent in file size. You can think of the algorithm that compresses the files for the Android device as being similar to ZIP files, as APK is not much different than a ZIP file.

While this seems very promising, Google is only keeping this File-by-File patching system on auto-updated Android applications only. GitHub now has the File-by-File patching system, thanks to Google putting it out there on the open-sourced platform. This allows other people to come in and possibly make the algorithm even better and save more room.

File-by-File patching right now is a very intensive thing as far as resources go, which is why right now it is limited and put out on the open-sourced platform. While it might be a while before we see the File-by-File patching system mainstream and being used also on manual application updates, it seems very promising as of right now on the auto-updated applications. People who have data limitations and are worried about bandwidth will really enjoy this new update feature, and it will not be long before we see this new Android update feature on both manual and automatic updates.