Applications available to download on the the Google Play Store have a maximum file size, which may be circumvented with the addition of up to two expansion files, each of which may be up to 2 GB in size. Readers will recognize these applications as the Play Store pops up a warning about the file size when you go to download one, and warns against using a mobile data connection. Today, Google announced that this 50 MB size is being doubled to 100 MB for devices running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and later. There are relatively few devices still running Android 3.2 Honeycomb or older, so this change is likely to mean that the overwhelming majority of customers will now be able to download a 100 MB application.
Google’s blog explains that the change is meant to provide developers with greater flexibility, citing that it may be difficult to blend a “delightful user experience” that best utilizes their Android hardware, with trying to keep application sizes relatively low such that these applications download, install and run quickly, especially for those customers running slowly. The larger and more complicated the application, the longer it takes to download and install, and of course the slower it could run (depending on how efficiently it has been coded). Google’s blog post goes into detail here, stating that just because developers can increase the size of their application, does not mean that they should. Google ask that developers are mindful that applications may be viewed and downloaded across the world and not all markets have access to high speed data networks (either mobile or WiFi) and that large files that take a long time to download may be ignored. Essentially, Google is asking developers to be prudent with their application size… but is also acknowledging that modern Android devices are significantly more capable than devices from just a couple of years ago.
Nevertheless, Google’s bias in today’s announcement is that developers can write high quality games and applications and the larger file size should help them to do this, but to also try to contain the enthusiasm for developers to suddenly release 80 MB, 90 MB versions of applications that had been around the 30 MB point. The news does raise a little warning flag, as the temptation for developers may not be to glitz up their applications with pretty features without adding more content and this could result in applications running slowly. We may see increased demand for application storage, which means that those devices with relatively limited internal storage (and unfortunately, devices with 16 GB of internal storage are now in this category) will struggle all the more. And for those of us still using older devices running Android up to 3.2, this is another encouragement to upgrade our device to a newer model.