Google forcing Android TV developers to embrace new app format

Mike Wheatley

The vast majority of older Android TV sets and devices are encumbered with a lousy 8GB of internal storage space, and when we include all of the software that Google loads onto it first, it means consumers have even less space for their own apps.


It’s a big problem for Google, which is trying to solve things with a demand that Android TV app developers all transition to a new, space-saving app format by May 2023.

While there are more than 10,000 games and TV apps available to download on Android TVs, most people have to choose which ones they want very carefully due to the limited storage space on most devices.

“While software has grown exponentially, TV hardware has remained limited in capacity compared to its phone counterparts,” said Google TV Head of Product Management Josh Wentz in a blog post. “In 2022, smartphones often have a minimum storage size of 64GB, but smart TVs have an average of just 8GB. Less storage results in users having to uninstall apps, hindering their overall TV experience. To help with this problem and others, Android introduced App Bundles in Nov 2020.”

Android App Bundle is a new format for applications that reduces the install size by around 20%, Google claims. What’s more, it supports the archiving of apps that are rarely used. With this enabled, the app will remain on the homescreen icon (as a reminder it exists), but the user will have to reinstall it if they decide they want to use it.

Google created the Android App Bundle format a couple of years ago, and it has decided that now is the time to insist developers start using it. It said all Android TV and Google TV apps must switch to the new format by May of next year, or else they’ll be punished. “For TV apps not transitioned in time, Google may hide such apps from the TV surface,” the company threatened.

It’s easy to understand why a lot of developers have been reluctant to embrace the Android App Bundle. In the blog post, Wentz estimated it will take a developer about three days’ work to migrate an existing Android TV app to the AAB format.

The deadline suggests Google is deadly serious about ensuring Android and Google TV users will have enough space to download all of the apps they want. In addition to forcing developers to use AAB, it’s also insisting that all TV and streaming devices running Android 13 or higher have at least 16GB of storage space.