Google Algorithm Shrinks App Updates by Up to Half

Apps-play-storeGoogle has introduced a series of changes to its Play Store focused on app updates and providing users with information on download sizes so they can better plan their data consumption.

A new Delta algorithm has been introduced that will supposedly reduce the size of app updates by as much as 50 per cent, ensuring that downloads for apps are faster and use less of users data when installed.

“For approximately 98 per cent 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,” said Anthony Morris, software engineer for Google Play. “Bsdiff (the new algorigthm) 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.”

The algorithm has also been applied to APK Expansion Files, which govern large files often containing high resolution graphics or media files for games. The size of initial downloads should be reduced by 12 per cent on average as a result, and updates featuring APK Expansions Files will be shrunk by 65 per cent.

In addition, updates will now show how big they are and how much data they will consume, enabling smartphone owners to better budget their data allowances and wait until they have access to wi-fi for larger downloads.

Previously, Google Play only showed the total size of the app, with update sizes hidden. This change is being rolled out globally over the next few weeks, along with the new algorithm.

Google has reportedly seen increases in the number of updates developers are rolling out for apps, as publishers move to push out new content with greater frequency, as well as patching security vulnerabilities and responding to user feedback. While this change is generally seen as positive, Google is aware of the data strains it places on users, hence these latest developments.