Google is drawing lines in the sand: Starting in August, Google will require new apps to be published in the Android App Bundle format (AAB), instead of the APK format which has been part of its OS since its inception.

Why is this important? App Bundles are currently only supported by the Google Play Store. The Amazon Appstore will not support App Bundles. The same goes for third-party apps that will also be supported by the Android 12 update.

App Bundles are a Google-branded upgrade. This format was introduced in 2018 and allows users to receive smaller updates. The Play servers determine what language, image resolution, and additional resources are required for your device. They then create an optimized APK for you.

For a quick overview of APK and bundles, you can skip to 2 minutes. You can also watch the entire video for more information.

Bundles allow you to split an app into parts, which is one of the most interesting features. Imagine a game that many people will not be able to complete. So why do you download all the assets? These levels can be downloaded when they are needed with Play Asset Delivery. The Play Store will determine which assets work best on your device. There is no need to use high-resolution textures on low-end devices, which will reduce data transfer requirements.

The App Bundle format can be adopted by other stores, as it is open-source. It is used by many developers – Bundles are the basis of over 1,000 top apps on Google Play. Over 1,000,000 apps are available in a Bundle format. It’s easy to build both an APK or an Android App Bundle. All you need is a few clicks on the most important tools (e.g. Android Studio, Unity and Unreal Engine are some of the tools available.

This only applies to new apps. Existing apps can still deliver APK updates.

The switch to Bundles won’t make it impossible for other app stores to compete. It does however make it very clear which app store is the One True App Store Android.