Android Uses AAB Files – How Is it Different from APK Files?

So here’s the story: since its inception (over a decade ago) APK files have been the universal format for Android apps. Whether it’s a developer or a user looking to install an app from another source (like Google Play Store, APKMirror, or whatever), they’ve always used APK files.

But that all changed in August 2021 when Google changed the Android app format from APK to AAB. So, what is an AAB file?

AAB files are custom-made files

The difference between APK and AAB files is what we call resources. In apps, resources are anything that is not software code, such as images, language files, or music. If you choose the “Install” button for an app in the Play Store, Google sends you an APK file configured with an AAB file for your device, obviously the file is already configured with the resources you need.

For example, is your smartphone locked to Full HD+ resolution? Then you will only receive an APK without 2K or 4K resolution. Another example: if you have set English and Indonesian as the language of your device, the APK you get will not add other languages that you do not use.

Verified directly by Google, not by developer

Another big difference is in-app signing (verification). As long as an APK file is used, the app developer is responsible for signing it with the developer key. This signature can be used when installing the app on a smartphone; its purpose is to verify that the app has not been compromised by malware or has not been unlocked for paid features.

In the future, it will not be the developer who signs the APK, but Google will soon do so, namely when creating APK files from AAB.

So Google is not completely removing APK files from Android because the AAB file format is more complex (more resources or you can say APK extension) and when you install an app on your smartphone, the file you get remains as an APK. It’s just that the APK file has been adapted to the needs of your device without adding unnecessary things.

Besides being more complex, APK files always require authorization from Google to update or purchase paid features (aka Pro features) of the app. So, apps with AAB files are definitely more secure and better integrated with Google, as everything requires Google authorization.

I hope this was helpful and helped you understand what an AAB file is. What do you think about this Google policy change? Let us know in the comments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *