Google outlines Android dev plans for next year

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Google has announced its plans for developers in 2021. It said that new apps will have to target API level 30 (Android 11) in August and in November for all app updates. Additionally, Google Play will require new apps to use the Android App Bundle publishing format which brings smaller app sizes and simpler releases.

With regards to Android App Bundle, Google revealed that 750,000 apps and games already use the publishing format and benefit from advanced distribution features such as Play Asset Delivery and Play Feature Delivery. On average, the size of an app using this publishing format is 15% smaller than a typical APK; as a result, app developers are seeing a higher install success rate and those in areas with poor download speeds benefit too.

From August 2021, the Google Play Console will require all apps to use the Android App Bundle format, utilise Play Asset Delivery or Play Feature Delivery to deliver assets of features that exceed 150MB, and target API level 30 (Android 11) or above and adjust for behavioural changes. It said expansion files (OBBs) will no longer be supported for new apps.

Existing apps will have to target API level 30 or above and adjust for behavioural changes in Android 11 by November 2021. Existing apps that are not receiving updates are unaffected and can continue to be downloaded from the Play Store. Google said that the changes due in August will impact instance experiences and updates; instant experiences will be required to publish instant-enabled app bundles.

Wear OS apps are not subject to the new target API level requirements so no work is needed there. Developers can continue to use a minSdkVersion so apps can still be built for older versions of Android. Google said that it has published a video series called modern Android development (MAD) skills that can help developers transition to app bundles.

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