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Free up space without uninstalling apps using upcoming Android archive feature

Instead of uninstalling an app, Android would just compress it to free up space.

Published onMarch 8, 2022

realme 9 Pro app drawer in hand
Kris Carlon / Android Authority
  • Google is working on an Android app archiving feature.
  • It appears this feature would allow you to compress an app to save space rather than fully uninstall it.
  • It’s possible we’ll see this feature launch within or alongside Android 13.

If you’re cursed with a phone that has a low amount of internal storage, you’ve likely needed to uninstall some apps to free up space. If you’re a big mobile gamer, especially, some games can take up loads of space on your phone. But, if you want to play it again, you need to fully reinstall it, which is a pain.

Thankfully, it seems Google is working on a solution to this problem. Instead of uninstalling an app, Android could just compress it while keeping the core information you need on your device. This Android app archiving feature would allow you to reclaim storage space but keep the app installed and ready to go when you need it next.

Google announced this feature on the Android Developers Blog. So far, the feature doesn’t have a market name, but Google appears to be quite invested in it. It’s possible we could see it roll out with or alongside Android 13 later this year.

Android app archiving: How would it work?

As mentioned, this feature isn’t solidified yet. As such, anything we say now could change by the time it officially rolls out. Regardless, Google is being pretty open about how it will likely work.

First, developers would need to support the feature. This would be in their best interest since it lowers the chances of users uninstalling their apps, which devs obviously don’t want. However, Google is not mandating apps support this, so devs can skip it if they choose.

If an app is supported, you would be able to activate Android app archiving through some sort of mechanism. Google doesn’t elaborate here, but we assume a pop-up would appear when you try to uninstall an app. It could ask you if you want to archive it instead in order to free up storage space but still have access to the app when you need it.

See also: The best cloud storage services and apps for Android

If the user chooses to archive the app, Android would remove data as well as compress it. The removed data would not be user-specific. In other words, Android would not delete your user data within the app, but it might remove some other files. Once it’s all set, it would get compressed. Google says this could make up to 60% of the app’s data disappear.

Of course, when you remove the app from its archived state, it would return back to normal. You would not need to reinstall or import your user data since it would still be there. However, your phone might still need to redownload removed files, so this might be a situation in which an internet connection is required, even if you’re not really reinstalling.

This Android app archiving feature sounds pretty useful, especially for budget phones with very little storage. We’ll let you know if Google makes any more announcements!

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