A few days ago, the voice – interaction-based application Clubhouse announced the Android version on May 9, which is available on Google Play Store. It was initially released for US consumers and now the company seems to make it available for the other regions too.
As per the latest news, Clubhouse for Android is making its way towards the different markets covering the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand region, after the US.
The Clubhouse team officially made an announcement on three Twitter account informing that, Clubhouse beta version is available in the US for the moment and will soon reach to nearer market in the coming time.
They further informed that users still need an invite to use the app. However, the managing team is working on this, and preparing a more enhance stable version, which will overcome all these shortcomings.
It’s been a long time, iOS users are enjoying the clubhouse, and finally, it’s coming true. Adding to this, the iOS-exclusive application will gradually expand to English-speaking countries, afterward in the rest countries.
Android AAB apps, a direct attack on Huawei HarmonyOS?
Currently, Huawei is busy in the process to shift its devices over the latest HarmonyOS 2 mobile operating system, which was unveiled on the 2nd of June 2021. However, there is still a long way remains for the company to cover.
The story of HarmonyOS comes into existence after the US put a ban on Huawei and Google left with no choice to withdraw its service support from the Huawei device. As Huawei has to fight for its survival, so the company brings an Android rival named HarmonyOS (Hongmeng OS or HM OS).
After numerous challenges, Huawei finally successfully started to launch HarmonyOS 2 in the devices and applications. The process is going smoothly and Huawei is again becoming stable but Google now surprisingly introduced the AAB or Android App Bundles, which seems to another threat for Huawei.
At this moment there are a lot of perspectives that need to be explained in order for a clearer understanding of how AAB can be a threat to HarmonyOS 2. Let’s get start.
What is AAB?
AAB is the acronym for Android App Bundles – a new app publishing format introduced by Google in 2018. This new format provides us features like reduced app size, high installation rate, easy switching, customizable features, Play Feature Delivery (PFD), and Play Asset Delivery (PAD), etc.
Now the question is if this format brings this many benefits how it can be a threat to Huawei?
Well, Google made this mandatory for the upcoming apps on Google Play Store by August 2021. It means every developer who wants to submit his app on the Play Store, must compile the app in the AAB format, otherwise, that app won’t be published on the Play Store.
At present, all the application uses APK (Android Application Format) format, which has support for different platforms. Unlike APK, the AAB doesn’t provide support for platforms such as Huawei AppGallery, and Amazon App Store.
It directly indicates that if a developer wants to submit his App on other channels after publishing on Play Store, the developer must have to reconvert the application in APK. As the other platforms still accept this format and not the AAB.
The same goes for the HarmonyOS kernel code, which supports only the APK format and possibly will next have to include AAB app support branches in the development.
Why Google Suddenly changed the program format of AAB?
Although Huawei smartphones don’t support the GMS (Google Mobile Service) but able to install some Android apps on HM OS. This is the most relieving fact for the users who takes fancy of Android applications even after upgrading to a whole new operating system.
If Huawei’s mobile software succeeds in building a brand new realm of the software world, it’ll be direct harm to Android. As we all know that success is a slow process and can’t be achieved in few trials. Neither we nor Google can overlook this attempt of Huawei.
At present, HarmonyOS isn’t as famous as Android but the distributive capabilities of the software have been acknowledged by the worldwide developer and they started to approach the company to adopt the HM OS.
Although Huawei HarmonyOS still depends on APKs, it certainly will setup up and take some time for Huawei to break free of dependence and stand alone on its own.
However, Huawei is in early-stage in overcoming the back-to-back stricks such as US-Sanction, Google apps withdrawal, and chip shortage, so it’s necessary for the company to run on the right track even if the speed is slow.
Even after these existing difficulties, the new AAB introduction could create another challenge for Huawei. If the AAB became the default format, the applications on Huawei AppGellary may gradually become fewer in numbers. As it’ll require extra effort to republish an app on another channel with APK format for developers.
But we want to mention that AAB is not a new project from the Android maker because it has been under development pipeline for years.
Android vs iOS vs HarmonyOS: Market dominance
With the popularity of Android, it’s still the priority of the developer to promote their works such as custom skin like MIUI, ColorOS, and other apps. Exploring the software market, we found that Android is the current most dominant software, and second, comes Apple’s iOS.
Where the iOS is the close system software, is exclusive to Apple device and ruling the market on the second position. On the other hand, Android is the king of the software market and ruling the 3 billion Android devices across the world with its open-source capabilities.
Many smartphone manufacturers modified the Android as the base skin and used in their phone, this same trend was followed by Huawei with EMUI but later Huawei stopped developing new EMUI versions on Android.
The arrival of HarmonyOS brings many new features, the different platforms and models start to adapt. This new system OS is moving towards a new empire, as in just a week about 15 million devices are already installed HM OS. Furthermore, the CEO of Huawei Consumer BG also set a huge target for the next year.
If Huawei successfully acquired the 15% shares of the software market, which is the company’s one of most important goals of the company, it can challenge Android and iOS for an even bigger market.
As of this year, Huawei expected to complete the installation of HarmonyOS 2 in 300 million devices, which will bring a big change in the entire software industry.
If HarmonyOS secures its place in the software market, it’ll defiantly emerge as a new rising star and somehow Android doesn’t want to let that happen.
Momentarily, we have to wait for Huawei’s response to this situation, it’s worthwhile to see what solution will the company come up with. Because, as soon the AAB will become the default Android app format, it could bring potential difficulties for HarmonyOS.
AAB (Android App Bundle): Everything about the future of APK
In 2018, Google introduced the Android App Bundle also known as AAB, which is a new publishing app format, delivers more enhanced benefits over another current most popular Android app format – APK (Android Application Package). The AAB offers a smaller app size, high installation rate, easy switching, customizable features, and so on.
Simultaneously, it allows adding multiple feature modules in the app project with the benefits of Play Feature Delivery (PFD). Furthermore, game developers with app bundle formate can use Play Asset Delivery to delivering large amounts of game assets with flexible delivery orders and high performance.
The Android AAB supported in Android Studio version 3.2 or above, Unity 2018.3, 2017.4.17, and Cocos Creator version 2.0.9 or above.
Google is Replacing APK with AAB:
By June 2021, Google made its mind to make AAB the default app package in place of Android Package or APK application format for the Android Apps on Google Play Store. Google believes that this change will bring more efficient working capabilities and faster-operating speed in applications and data delivery.
It means that starting in August of this year, all new and existing apps on Google Play Store must have the AAB format. Meanwhile, it’s not mandatory for the present apps with APK formate at the moment.
What’s changing in August 2021
If we talk about what changes are Google bringing in August 2021, we should look into the following:
- The APK format is replacing with the AAB on Google Play
- The Expansion files (OBBs) will replace with Play Asset Delivery (PAD) and Play Feature Delivery (PFD)
- The AAB will require the Instant app Zip for instant experience
These changes will be applied to the apps or files launching in the future. While the existing apps will remain the same as they before. After August 2021, the files with more than 150MB size can take the benefit of PAD & PFD with AAB format.
Android App Bundle: Benefit from a smaller App
It modifies the serve APKs and optimized them for different device configurations, which results in the smaller app sizes average of about 10% and 15% for universal APK.
Users will only download the used codes in the app with need resources and requirements for an individual device that made the faster downloading speeds with most installed and fewer uninstalls.
Manage releases more efficiently:
The AAB creates a single artifact that consists of all compiled codes, resources, and native libraries for a particular app. Thus, eliminates the need to build, sign, upload, and manage version codes for multiple APKs.
Play Asset Delivery:
This AAB exclusive feature reduces user waiting time and transmits large assets dynamically also reducing delivery costs. Games with Play Asset Delivery can have the benefits of texture compression format targeting. It allows a user to only get required assets suitable for their devices.
Customize Feature Delivery: Faster Build Times
It allows the Android Studio to build systems using Gradle, which are optimized for modular apps so they are significantly faster to build than large solid apps. It reduces the waiting, so developers can give more time to designing, coding, and testing the app.
Using the feature modules, improve build speed, engineering velocity and extensively customize app delivery with reduced app size. However, there are some constraints and edge cases we have to follow when using feature modules.
Google Play Instance Experience:
The AAB offers the Google Play Instant experience, and the bundle is known as an instant-enabled app bundle. This bundle presents the app set up, configure, build, test, and publish guides.
Issues with AAB: Google will have the most control
As I mentioned earlier, the AAB has about 15% reduced sizes than Apks, but as Google is just starting to initiate this, it has two major known issues. The first one is related to the app versions in different channels and the second one is related to the signing key.
The developers who are planning to launch their apps on other platforms or stores such as Amazon App Store and Huawei AppGallery have to manually transmit the APK version of that particular app. However, it’s not heavy work for a developer.
If a developer wants to submit his application on the Play Store only, it’s a good choice to have the AAB. But those end users who still want the APKs, have to look for alternative stores or do struggle in exporting AABs and it won’t support others for now.
This is the most concerning one as the developers have to provide the signing key of their apps to Google in order to export AAB files as an APK. Certainly, this action will give Google the supreme powers to access the core of the app.
Speaking of the app signing key, it works as authoritative power for a specific developer, which denotes the creation of a particular app. If someone else has the signing key, he can use it to command the app and gain the benefits as some developers aren’t sharp enough to manage the AAB format yet.
Most frequent queries about the Android App Bundles:
1 What are the working requirement to use and AAB comparing with APK?
Ans- The AAB is an open-source app format and provides supports for various development engines like Android Studio, Gradle, Bazel, Buck, Cocos Creator, Unity, Unreal Engine, and others. Furthermore, Play Core Native, Play Core Java, and Kotlin SDKs offer advanced app bundle features regardless of your selected coding conditions.
2 Why the OBBs don’t support AABs? Why the gaming apps use Play Asset Delivery?
Ans- The OBBs files are required for the additional features but they are saved in an app’s outer storage, which makes them insecure.
Furthermore, if you want a smoother publishing process and flexible delivery modes for your gaming apps, which are larger than 150 MB, you can publish them in AAB format on the Play Store, it’ll enable the Play Asset Delivery.
PAD provides more advantages than legacy augmentation files with the optimized delta patching helps in reducing the storage space in the device in comparison with OBBs.
Apparently, you’ll get higher install rates, texture compression format on ASTC supported devices, and can aim for the most extensive Android device range with comprehensive use of hardware and device storage.
3 Does AAB supports different app publishes platforms?
Ans- No, the AAB doesn’t support different publishing platforms. However, if a developer wants to submit his application to other platforms than Google Play Store there are many ways to do so.
The developer can use only one signing key on each platform or can use a unique one for each channel, including a different app signing key for Google Play Store.
The developer can use many approaches like he can either build artifacts for all distribution channels locally, can sign in for the artifact, and can download distribution APKs from Google Play to use it on other platforms.
The notable thing is, the distribution APKs can be downloaded from the app bundle explorer available in Play Console or using the Play Developer API. But they have to sign with the same app key in the Play App Signing.
4 Can I decide app signing key for my new app?
Ans- Yes, the Play Console offers to decide the app signing key. In addition, you can select any key recommended by Google as the app signing key. It helps in keeping a copy of your singing key provincially.
To be more clear, you can create signed versions for other distribution channels using the same key as the Play version. Furthermore, the Play Console is working to release an additional app, proving you the ability to chain the app signing key in case you made any mistake, but support it as long as you do it before you publish to an open track the first time.
5 How can I assures that my app has been delivered in the way I want?
Ans- The AAB offers you to download or inspect artifacts from the Play Store using the app bundle explorer anytime you want. You can use the Play Console or the Play Developer API to check or verify your app.
Furthermore, the code transparency for app bundles is a new feature used to examine running code on a device and verify it with the code basically built and signed by the developer. It’s an additional feature.
6 Can I use the Play App Signing key for my previously published app on the Play store even without granting the exciting app signing key copy?
Ans- At present, if you want to use the Play App Signing, you must provide a copy of your actual app signing key to Google Play, to sign and release updates to the present users. An estimated 1M apps are using play App Signing in production to date.
In the future, Google will also provide an extra feature in the existing apps Play App Signing by sending an update. This option will allow the Play App Signing to use the new and unique key for the upcoming installs and their further updates.
However, to enjoy this feature you have provided your actual APK signed key with your previous APK signed key while uploading an app bundle. It will allow Google Play to keep the updates regular for the present users.
7 Does the App signing key is changeable?
Ans- Yes, the app signing key is changeable and some apps can apply for a new app signing key in Play Console. Then Google Play will use your new key to sign new installs and upgrades. And the legacy app signing key will be used for signing up for users updates who have been already installed that application.
In addition, Google is working to add an APK Signature Scheme v3 key circumrotation feature in Play Consol forthwith. Afterward, the key upgrade can become a possible option for more apps and help apps signed with upgraded keys, which can be available for numerous users.
Future of AAB:
According to Android officials, over 1 million applications with top 1000 apps on Google Play Store such as Twitter, Netflix, Gameloft titles, Adobe, and Duolingo are using AABs. Google expects that this app distribution extension will grow more in the future.
All the new Android apps on the Google Play Store will need to be in AABs in the future. It’s assuredly a turning chapter for Android APKs, it’s bringing the advantages and disadvantages for the developers, but we have to wait for the implementation before reaching a conclusion.
Google apps are crashing again, here is how to solve this issue and check Google’s response
Back in March, Google pushed a new update for its WebView mobile plugin (app), which created a massacre of app crashes among the Android-powered smartphones. Thereafter, Google also rolled out a number of patches to resolve this issue and announced the cause of the entire app crashing scenario.
But recently, similar problems have emerged again, as users are unable to access the Google App. The app keeps showing “Google app keeps stopping” message each time. That’s not it because this sudden change also expanded to Google Assistant, Lens, and Search apps as well, making it an all-around problem.
Regarding this, Android just posted an explanation and said the company is aware of the new issue on the Google App. Yet it only mentioned the Google App on the focus
“We’re aware that the Google App on Android is not functioning as expected for some people. We are currently working to fix the problem and apologize for any inconvenience.”
We're aware that the Google App on Android is not functioning as expected for some people. We are currently working to fix the problem and apologize for any inconvenience. In the meantime, please try these steps: https://t.co/KxzrJ1NRp7
— Android (@Android) June 23, 2021
But if you are hit by the same issue, there’s a patch that you can apply to make it go away for the time being.
- Launch Android Settings app
- Go to Apps & notifications
- Tap “See all apps”
- Find and tap Google from the app list (or you can use the search button on the top right corner to search for “google”)
- Tap Storage & cache
- Tap “Clear storage” or “Manage space”
- Tap CLEAR ALL DATA
Furthermore, you can also try the system Webview solution linked below.