Asset Delivery API for Google Play Should Ease Game Downloads

The latest gaming-focused API from Google is meant to help reduce the time it takes to download and install games so end users can start gameplay faster while simultaneously consuming less storage on their phones. The Google Play Asset Delivery API is flexible, has a small footprint, and is free for developers to use. Here's what you need to know. 

If there's a common complaint amongst gamers, it's the time lost to game installs. As mobile games grow ever bigger, the time spent downloading them over WiFi or 4G networks and then installing them can consume quite a few minutes. Most people want to get to the game as quickly as they can. 

Google says the Asset Delivery API is here to help. It works by extending the Android App Bundles format. It relies on asset packs, which are can include the individual assets of a game (textures, shades, sounds), but no actual executable code. Dynamic delivery then allows developers to customize how and when those assets are downloaded to an end user's device.

There are three basic deliver modes: install-time, fast-follow, and on-demand. The install-time packs are pushed to the device when the game is first installed. They can launch immediately, count toward the app size, and cannot be changed by the user. The fast-follow packs and next. They require no input from the user and begin downloading as soon as the main app is installed. Importantly, end users can launch the game or app even while the fast-follow packs are downloading and installing. These packs also contribute to the app size. Last, the on-demand asset packs download in rea-time while the app is running. 

Google says that the latter two asset packs are served as archive files and not as split APKs. Once downloaded, they expand in the app's internal storage. Google says they should be treated as read-only because the files might be moved or deleted by the Play Core SDK during gaming sessions. 

There are some limits. The initial install-time asset pack cannot exceed 1GB, and individual fast-follow and on-demand asset packs cannot exceed 512MB. Developers can use up to 50 separate asset packs, but the total of the Android App Bundle cannot surpass 2GB. 

Where updates are concerned, Google points out that the install-time asset pack is always updated as part of any update to the base app. Any additional updates to the app are then pulled down in the individual asset packs. End users will be able to use apps even if they have not been updated, though developers can call the In-App Updates API to trigger an update from within the app, rather than via the Play Store. 

In the end, Google hopes the Asset Delivery API will help developers streamline their app download and install processes so people can get into apps quicker.

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