Google announced yesterday via the Android Developers Blog that it is working on new functionality that will allow users to “reclaim ~60% of app storage temporarily by removing parts of the app rather than uninstalling it completely“. Not officially named yet, this new feature is being dubbed “app archiving” and expands on the existing App Bundles functionality to create a new type of archived APK.
According to the announcement, this will be possible with the upcoming 1.10 version of Bundletool, which will generate these very small APKs that hold on to the user’s data until the app is restored from its archived status. However, even though it will be possible to create the archived APKs now, they won’t work until the new archiving functionality is launched later this year — possibly with the public release of Android 13. Lidia Gaymond and Vicki Amin, Product Managers at Google Play, explained:
Instead of uninstalling an app, users would be able to “archive” it – free up space temporarily and be able to re-activate the app quickly and easily. Developers can benefit from fewer uninstalls and substantially lower friction to pick back up with their favorite apps.
This functionality is already available on iOS and, more recently, on Windows 11. Interestingly, Google has made this functionality open-source, allowing developers to inspect the code and possibly use this on other app stores. It is unclear if this will make its way to Android apps on Chromebooks, being that most Chrome OS devices are still running Android 9, and progress on ARCVM is still ongoing. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this as the release of Android 13 gets closer.