Google first introduced app bundles a few years back, allowing developers to distribute their software by splitting up the individual components of their apps, and then having the Play Store only send users those parts that their specific phones or tablets actually need. The feature has managed to drastically reduce download sizes, and now Google is about to require developers to support app bundles for newly-published applications.
This shift has been coming for a while. In a “What’s new in Google Play” video published last June, Google revealed that app bundle support will be a requirement for newly-published applications. Initially we were just given a broad “2021” target, further narrowed down to sometime in Q2. Now Google is finally assigning a hard deadline, with this retirement set to become effective as of August.
The new requirement goes hand-in-hand with the announcement of Play Delivery Assets this week, which will allow developers to feed non-code assets sent as modules through the app bundling system.
App bundles is largely a back-end delivery technology, so most people likely won’t notice anything different once app bundles become enforced, except smaller file sizes. There’s no word yet on when app bundles will become a requirement for existing apps as well, if it ever happens.
Our sister site, APK Mirror, supports the upload, distribution, and installation of bundled apps. You can get the APKMirror Installer app to sideload .apkm files well ahead of any deadline.
Google has revealed plans to start enforcing this new requirement as of August.