Inspect Android App Bundles with the app bundle explorer

In the second half of 2021, new apps will be required to publish with the Android App Bundle on Google Play. New apps larger than 150MB will have to use either dynamic feature delivery or dynamic asset delivery.

Read this post on the Android Developers Blog for more details.

The Android App Bundle is the recommended publishing format on Google Play. By publishing your apps using app bundles, you can reduce the size of your app, simplify releases, and enable advanced distribution features. 

Using the app bundle explorer on the Play Console, you can easily manage your app bundles and artifacts in one place. You can also access useful metadata, downloads, and insight into what Google Play generates for dynamic delivery.

How app bundles work and their benefits

App bundles use a serving model called dynamic delivery to build and deliver APKs that are optimized for each device configuration, providing users with more efficient apps. This means you only need to build, sign, and upload a single artifact in order to support optimized APKs for a wide variety of device configurations. Google Play then manages and serves your app's APKs for you.

App bundle features and benefits
  • Publish smaller apps, facilitating faster installs and smaller size-on-disk, which can lead to fewer uninstalls.
  • Simplify release management, removing the complexity of publishing and managing multiple APKs.
  • You can use the Play Core Library to modularize your app and include dynamic feature modules. You can deliver dynamic feature modules in a few different ways:
    • At-install delivery: Modules are delivered at install time. You may choose to do this to take advantage of faster build times or to deliver modules at install time and then uninstall them later to avoid taking up size on disk unnecessarily. 
    • Conditional delivery: Modules are delivered at install time based on conditions such as user country, device features, and minimum SDK version.
    • On demand delivery: Install and uninstall modules as needed, instead of delivering them to all users for the lifetime of your app.
    • Instant experiences: Modules can be instant-enabled to offer instant experiences from links and the Try Now button on your app’s store listing that don’t require a user to install your app first.
  • You can use the Play Core Library to deliver large game assets. You can deliver dynamic assets in a few different ways:
    • At-install delivery: Assets are delivered with the install (‘upfront’) and are available to the app at launch.
    • Fast follow delivery: Assets are delivered automatically after the app is installed. The app does not have to be opened to start the download. The download also doesn’t prevent the user from opening the app.
    • On demand delivery: Assets are downloaded as needed when the app is running.
  • If your app has its own in-app language picker, you can use the additional languages API to let users access and download additional language resources on demand.

Using the app bundle explorer

You can use the app bundle explorer to inspect each app version, download artifacts, and see what Google Play generates for dynamic delivery. 

The App bundle explorer page features an artifact filter on the top right of the page, which you can use in conjunction with the three tabs below to explore different versions and configurations of your app’s APKs on different devices. This artifact filter is the functional equivalent of the “Artifact library” on the previous version of the Google Play Console.

The App bundle explorer page comprises two tabs:

  • Details: Review granular details for each version of your app.
  • Downloads: Generate install links for each version of your app, download device-specific APKs for testing or pre-installing on devices, download a standalone APK, and manage other files related to each version.

Prerequisites and recommendations

Review your APK details

To view the APKs that Google Play generates from your app bundle:

  1. Open the Play Console.
  2. Select an app.
  3. On the left menu, select Release > Devices and versions > App bundle explorer.
  4. On the Devices tab, select the artifact filter near the top right of the page.
  5. On the “Choose an artifact” table, select the right arrow on the artifact you want to view.
  6. Review the artifact details.
    • Optional: Under “Supported Android devices,” you can select View device catalog to view and manage the devices that are compatible with this version of your app.

Share an APK install link

To share a link to install a specific APK that Google Play generates from your app bundle:

  1. Open the Play Console.
  2. Select an app.
  3. On the left menu, select Release > Devices and versions > App bundle explorer.
  4. Select the artifact filter near the top right of the page.
  5. On the “Choose an artifact” table, select the right arrow on the artifact you want to view.
  6. Select the Downloads tab.
  7. To share a link to install a specific APK: In the “Internal app sharing link” section, select Copy shareable link.
  8. Share the link.
    • Tip: You can select Manage access to visit the Internal app sharing page and quickly share app bundle and APK links with your team. To learn more, go to Share app bundles and APKs internally.

Download device-specific APKs

You can download device-specific APKs and download device-specific pre-install APKs to share with OEMs to pre-install on their devices (so that they can subsequently be updated by Google Play).

To download device-specific APKs that Google Play generates from your app bundle:

  1. Open the Play Console.
  2. Select an app.
  3. On the left menu, select Release > Devices and versions > App bundle explorer.
  4. Select the artifact filter near the top right of the page.
  5. On the “Choose an artifact” table, select the right arrow on the artifact you want to view.
  6. Select the Downloads tab.
  7. In the “Device-specific APKs” table, select the download icon next to the APK you want to save our share.

Download asset files and deobfuscation files

To download asset files, deobfuscation files, and native debugs symbols for APKs that Google Play generates from your app bundle:

  1. Open the Play Console.
  2. Select an app.
  3. On the left menu, select Release > Devices and versions > App bundle explorer.
  4. Select the artifact filter near the top right of the page.
  5. On the “Choose an artifact” table, select the right arrow on the artifact you want to view.
  6. Select the Downloads tab.
  7. In the “Assets” table, select the download icon next to the files you want to save our share.

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