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23 July 2011, 15:14

Google's Android Market gets multiple APK support

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Android icon Until now, developers wanting to distribute their Android applications via Google's Android Market have had to pay close attention to the range of device configurations that their software will support and to reconcile these requirements within a single Android package (APK). Because of this, it has not always been possible to support every conceivable hardware platform, particularly with the APK size limited to a maximum of 50 MB on some devices.

Google has now addressed this issue and will, with immediate effect, allow app developers to distribute multiple APKs for a single app on Android Market. One limitation remains – although apps can be customised for different devices, Android Market can only distinguish between different APKs for an app based on

  • different compression formats for OpenGL textures
  • different screen resolutions
  • different Android versions.

Where developers wish to differentiate by other criteria, they will still have to generate separate apps. The new system does promise a range of benefits for both developers and users. Developers will only need to administer a single set of product details (screenshots, description, etc.) and users will no longer be unnecessarily confused by having to choose between different versions (which their set-up may not even support). In future, reviews will also apply to all versions of the app.

Google is nonetheless keen to stress that single APK apps should remain the norm; developers are being encouraged to meet the needs of all target platforms in a single package wherever possible. The multiple APK option should, according to Google, only be used when, after careful consideration, it is clear that there is no other option. Google has compiled a developer guide for using multiple APKs.


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