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Android developers have two new ways to update their apps

Even though some Android developers implemented something similar with their apps, the In-App Updates API provides a more universal solution.

Published onNovember 7, 2018

  • Google announced the In-App Updates API during its Android Dev Summit.
  • The new API gives developers two new ways to update their apps.
  • Essentially, the In-App Updates API can force users to update their apps.

With new tools and features announced during today’s Android Developer Summit, one of those new features that went a bit under the radar is the In-App Updates API. It might seem like a small feature, but Google senior director for Android product management and developer relations Stephanie Saad Cuthbertson told TechCrunch that this was a widely-requested feature.

“This is something that developers have asked us for a long time is — say you own an app and you want to make sure the user is running the latest version,” said Cuthbertson.

What Cuthbertson is referring to is the In-App Updates API, which gives developers two new ways to update their apps: immediate and flexible. With an immediate in-app update, users are greeted with a full-screen message that tells them there is an update that must be downloaded and applied before they can use the app. The message goes away once the update is done and users can then continue to use the app.

With a flexible in-app update, there is no full-screen update message. This allows users to open and use an app while the update downloads in the background. Once the update finishes downloading, developers can either have the update applied immediately or whenever users open their apps again.

Google director of engineering Aurash Mahbod said the company is testing the In-App Updates API in Google Chrome. Mahbod also said Google will expand the In-App Updates API to its Early Access Program “very soon.”