Google has made Android app updates 65% smaller but it takes twice download them


Your mobile data is consumed whenever you are updating your Android apps – manually or automatically. To reduce mobile data consumption, Google has made some changes in the Play Store so that the size of the files being downloaded for the update is reduced by almost 65%. But the drawback is, since lots of compression is taking place, it takes double the time for the update to download and get activated. The process of compressing and decompressing files is complex and on slower devices, it may take lots of time.

To take care of this, the new method is applicable only to automatic updates and these automatic updates happen when most probably you are sleeping and least expected to use your mobile phone. Since your mobile phone would be lying idle, while the update is happening you won’t be interrupted. The entire process of file-by-file patching is described in this Android Developers blog post:

Android apps are packaged as APKs, which are ZIP files with special conventions. Most of the content within the ZIP files (and APKs) is compressed using a technology called Deflate. Deflate is really good at compressing data but it has a drawback: it makes identifying changes in the original (uncompressed) content really hard. Even a tiny change to the original content (like changing one word in a book) can make the compressed output of deflate look completely different. Describing the differences between the original content is easy, but describing the differences between the compressed content is so hard that it leads to inefficient patches.

Given below is a table to illustrate how the size of the files is reduced for individual apps:


Original Size

Previous (BSDiff) Patch Size

(% vs original)

File-by-File Patch Size (% vs original)

Farm Heroes Super Saga

71.1 MB

13.4 MB (-81%)

8.0 MB (-89%)

Google Maps

32.7 MB

17.5 MB (-46%)

9.6 MB (-71%)


17.8 MB

7.6 MB (-57%)

7.3 MB (-59%)

Google TTS

18.9 MB

17.2 MB (-9%)

13.1 MB (-31%)


52.4 MB

19.1 MB (-64%)

8.4 MB (-84%)


16.2 MB

7.7 MB (-52%)

1.2 MB (-92%)

This is good for both users who would like to save their mobile bandwidth and for developers who sometimes have to roll out frequent updates for adding new features and making their apps more secure.

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About Amrit Hallan
Amrit Hallan is the founder of He writes about technology not because "he loves to write about technology", he actually believes that it makes the world a better place. On Twitter you can follow him at @amrithallan

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