With just 8GB of internal storage and even less available to the user on many Android TV devices, Google will be requiring all developers to transition to its new app format by May 2023.
There are over 10,000 apps/games available on Android TV and Google TV but only a handful can be installed on Chromecast, Nvidia Shield and many TVs due to their limited 8GB or 16GB storage capacity.
- "While software has grown exponentially, TV hardware has remained limited in capacity compared to its phone counterparts. In 2022, smartphones often have a minimum storage size of 64GB, but smart TVs have an average of just 8GB. Less storage results in users having to uninstall apps, hindering their overall TV experience. To help with this problem and others, Android introduced App Bundles in Nov 2020," said Josh Wentz, Product Management, Google TV.
The new Android App Bundle (AAB) format reduces install size by an average of 20%, according to Google. Furthermore, it supports archiving of apps that are rarely used by the user. These apps will remain on the homescreen as icons but need to installed before use.
May 2023 deadline
All apps available for Android TV and Google TV must transition to the new app format by May next year.
- "With TV storage confined and users having an increasing appetite for more apps, Google TV and Android TV will be requiring App Bundles starting in May 2023," Google wrote in a note to developers. "For TV apps not transitioned in time, Google may hide such apps from the TV surface."
Google estimates that it will take a developer about 3 days to migrate an existing TV app from Android Package Kit (APK) to Android App Bundle (AAB).
A similar system is already deployed on Apple's tvOS for Apple TV. Apple's system can also automatically install and delete new game levels according on the player's game progress.
Starting with Android 13, Google wants new Android TV and Google TV devices to ship with a storage capacity of 16GB or higher.
What are Android App Bundles?
“Android App Bundles” (AABs) are the standard publishing format on Google Play (phones, tablets, TVs, etc) that have replaced “Android Package Kits” (APKs). App Bundles are smaller, faster, fresher, and better than its precursor. Key benefits include:
1. Smaller Download/Storage Size - App Bundles create an average of 20% total size savings compared to its equivalent APK counterpart by optimizing for each device.
2. Less Likely to Uninstall - Since App Bundles enables users with the option to archive (which reclaims ~60% of app storage), users can keep these and more apps on their TV despite limited storage. A quick archive/unarchive user interface is built-in to the TV. Developers can also maintain state for a frictionless later return.
3. Applicable to All Android Surfaces - App Bundles are helpful for all Android surfaces using the Google Play store including TV, phone, tablet, watch, auto, & more.
4. Streamlined Delivery & Security - 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.