Google launched a new auto-archiving feature

Google unveiled its app auto-archiving feature last March, which was officially implemented in the Google Play Store app v33.4 update released in November. Recently, the auto-archiving feature has been made available for practical use, allowing users to reduce the storage capacity of a single app by up to 60%.

Google explains that the compressed app size can be reduced by up to 60% without completely removing the app content from the phone or deleting user data within the app. The archiving method entails trimming specific portions of the app and retaining only the essential parts. The app icon will remain on the phone’s home screen or app list, and the other parts will be redownloaded when the user needs them. This method further conserves the phone’s storage capacity, although it may increase network traffic during app downloads.

To utilize this archiving feature, the app must adopt the App Bundle format, which Google has required developers to implement since 2021. In theory, any app that frequently complies with Google’s guidelines should be compatible, but apps sideloaded via APK files may not be eligible for archiving.

Prior to this, Google had employed various methods to minimize the storage space occupied by apps, such as launching the compact and low-data-consuming Go series of apps, which facilitated the use of entry-level phones with limited storage capacity in emerging markets.

Additionally, Google had previously released an Archived APK file format, designed to divide larger apps into smaller portions. When an app goes unused for an extended period, the essential parts can be preserved, while the other components can be split and removed from the user’s phone, thus freeing up additional storage space.