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Google's new Play Store algorithm to halve size of updates

If you are worried about the amount of data you use to keep your apps up to date, Google's new algorithm to solve this issue is what you've been waiting for

Published onJuly 25, 2016

Google Play Store new icon crop

The amount of data required for updating Google Play apps can really send your mobile bill through the roof, especially if you aren’t using Wi-Fi. Fortunately, your concerns have been heard. Originally created by Colin Percival, Google has rolled out a new Delta algorithm, bsdiff, which reduces the app update size and lets you save on the data required for updating them.

This new algorithm does this by further compressing the size of patches for apps and games. According to a blog post by Anthony Morris, SWE Google Play, for about 98 percent of app updates from the Play Store, only deltas to APK files are downloaded and merged with the existing files to reduce the size of the updates. Now, Google’s new algorithm will further reduce the patches by up to 50 percent. As he explains in the post,

“For approximately 98 percent of app updates from the Play Store, only changes (deltas) to APK files are downloaded and merged with the existing files, reducing the size of updates. We recently rolled out a delta algorithm, bsdiff, that further reduces patches by up to 50 percent or more compared to the previous algorithm. Bsdiff is specifically targeted to produce more efficient deltas of native libraries by taking advantage of the specific ways in which compiled native code changes between versions. To be most effective, native libraries should be stored uncompressed (compression interferes with delta algorithms).”

Google has also applied the new algorithm to APK Expansion Files to allow users to include additional large files of up to 2GB in size with their apps. This means that the download size of your initial installs will now be lower by about 12 percent, and your updates by approximately 65 percent.

“APK Expansion Files allow you to include additional large files up to 2GB in size (e.g. high resolution graphics or media files) with your app, which is especially popular with games. We have recently expanded our delta and compression algorithms to apply to these APK Expansion Files in addition to APKs, reducing the download size of initial installs by 12 percent, and updates by 65 percent on average.”

Google really cares about you and doesn’t want you to pay unnecessarily high data charges when you update your favorite apps. So it has also updated the Play Store descriptions to include the actual download size of the apps instead of the size of their APKs. So instead of seeing just the app size earlier on Google Play and remaining in the dark about how much data and storage the update would actually consume, you’ll now get to see the precise size of the app you want to install or update. Cool, huh?

If the changes made to Google Play aren’t reflecting on your screen yet, don’t panic because, as always, they are being rolled out to all users and should reach you sometime in the coming weeks.

Let us know in the comments below if you think Google Play’s new algorithm will help reduce your data usage!

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