Google has announced a new algorithm that allows developers to reduce the size of their Android app updates to save user data. In comparison with the old algorithm, “Bsdiff” can reduce patch sizes by 50 percent or more, Google says.
In the last year alone, Android users have installed a whopping 65 billion apps from Google Play, and developers are now pushing updates more frequently to add new content, patch bugs and vulnerabilities, and to address user feedback.
“However, many users are sensitive to the amount of data they use, especially if they are not on Wi-Fi,” Google explains. “Google Play is investing in improvements to reduce the data that needs to be transferred for app installs and updates.”
Google says that for approximately 98 percent of app updates served by Google Play, only changes (“deltas”) are downloaded and merged with the existing files already installed on your device. Now those deltas are becoming more efficient.
With the Bsdiff algorithm, Google Play can significantly reduce the size of app updates. For apps with uncompressed libraries, the difference can be 50 percent or more. Those with compressed libraries will see a 5 percent difference on average.
Google has also been able to reduce the size of APK Expansion Files. These are things like high-resolution graphics and media that can be up to 2GB in size and are included with app downloads. They can be reduced by 65 percent on average.
In addition to this, the Play Store will become more transparent about update sizes. It will be easier to see exactly how much data will be required to download individual app updates, so there will be no nasty surprises later when you check your remaining allowance.