Google Makes App Updates 65% Smaller

Google Pixel Event

Google has announced it has been able to reduce the size of app updates by 65%.

The new approach, called file-by-file patching, makes app updates 65% smaller than the full app, and in some cases more than 90% smaller, Google said.

This method works by sending a device a patch from Google Play that “describes the differences” between an old and a new version.

In a blog post, Google Play Software Engineer Andrew Hayden explained: “Imagine you are an author of a book about to be published, and wish to change a single sentence – it’s much easier to tell the editor which sentence to change and what to change, rather than send an entirely new book.

“In the same way, patches are much smaller and much faster to download than the entire APK.”

Despite this, however, there is “one trade off” with the new method – on average it takes twice as long to apply the patch.

This is because extra processing power is needed, meaning that “if the patch size is halved then the time spent applying the patch (which for File-by-File includes recompression) is doubled”, Hayden said.

Because of this, Google currently only plans to use the patch method for auto-updates that happen in the background, often at night when you phone is plugged in to power.

Developers also don’t have to do anything to get the benefits of this new method, they will simply be administered for free.

Read more about Google’s new patching method here.