Developers for Android have had to work
around the crippling 50MB file size limit for a long time now. To take care of this
problem, many developer devised a concept where you first download a small
application from the Android Market and upon launching it would download the
rest of the files from the developers' server.
This came with its own set of problems. The
user would not be aware of the total size of the app before downloading it. You
were also often unable to refund an app, because by the time the additional
data got downloaded, the 15 minute refund period for the app would be over.
Well, these days are now gone. First, in
the case of such applications that need additional data to run, the 15 minute
windows won;t start until the whole data is completely downloaded.
Secondly, Google increased the total
application size limit up to 4GB for the Android Market. But it's a bit
different than the way things work on, say, the App Store, for example.
The total apk size for the Android Market
is still 50MB but now the developers can have two additional expansion files
that can be up to 2GB each. The developer can store these expansion files on
the Google servers instead on their own and they will get downloaded along with
the apk file. Also, the user will be made aware of the final size of the app
before downloading it.
One of the advantages of having this system
is that when the time comes to update the app, the user won't have to download
the entire thing again. Although the developers are free to use the expansion
files whichever way they like, Google is advising them to use one of the
expansion files to host all the important data and the other for updating
purposes. This way, when the app needs to be updated, the developer can only
modify the second expansion file and the user will only have to download it
instead of the entire 4GB application all over again. Think of it as being
similar to the delta updates available on iOS.
Of course, the user won't have to worry
about or even know about these things and the process or purchasing or updating
will remain identical. All of this expansion files business will happen behind
The advantage of using this method over the
one currently employed by the developers is that the Android Market allows
downloads to run in the background and will even let you pause and resume the
download. You can use Wi-Fi or 3G to download these large apps but if you use
Wi-Fi and you move out of coverage the download will automatically be paused.
Hopefully, the developers will take to this
new way of distributing large apps, which should make the lives of the users a