Google Play close up

Google has introduced a new feature to the Google Play store called “smart updates,” which will significantly reduce the size of the files you’re required to download every time your Android apps are updated. Also known as a “delta update,” smart updates include only the data required to introduce new features and functionality, or to fix bugs.

Until now, whenever you downloaded an update from Google Play — no matter how significant its changes — you were required to download the entire apk file again. That wasn’t too much of an issue for smaller apps, but for games with larger package sizes, it was an inconvenience — especially if you have a slow broadband connection.

Thankfully, that’s no longer the case. As reported by Android Police, the smart updates feature — which we’ve been waiting for since Google unveiled it at Google I/O back in June — is now active:

Ladies and gentlemen, we have verified that these incremental “smart” updates went live recently, very likely last night or this morning, with the release of the 3.8.15 Play Store. Here’s the good news: it should also work with earlier Play Store releases, like 3.7.15, as the change seems to be retroactive and server-side.

I haven’t had chance to test the feature myself because my Galaxy Note — my only Android handset — is out of action. But according to Android Police, it works well. For example, the ezPDF Reader app, which normally weighs in at 6.43MB, requires only a 3MB update. The new Instagram app, which normally weighs in at 13MB, was also just a 3MB update.

The video below is a perfect example of smart updates in action. An update to Google Maps, which is 6.88MB in size, according to Google Play, finishes when it reaches just 3.48MB.

It goes without saying, then, that this will make Android app updates a significantly less painful experience from now on — especially for those of you who update using a 3G or 4G data connection. I’m just a little disappointed that this feature isn’t available with every app store yet.

[via Android Police]