You might have read somewhere online today that Google is granting Android app developers powers to forcefully install app updates…but it is not true.
Instead, the tech giant is providing a new feature that will help users to have up-to-date Android apps all the time and yes, it’s optional.
Along with the launch of a number of new tools and features at its Android Dev Summit 2018, Google has also launched the a new API, called “In-app Updates,” which aims to help developers ensure that users are running the latest and greatest version of their app.
“We’ve heard that you’d like more controls to ensure that users are running the latest and greatest version of your app. To address this, we’re launching an In-app Updates API,” Google said.
How Does Android’s New In-app Updates API Work?
It should be noted that the Android’s new In-app Updates API doesn’t force or lock out users from the app if they chose not to update it.
Instead, the API has been designed to aggressively inform users about the latest available updates and give them a smooth in-app installation experience without closing the app or opening the Google Play Store.
As explained by Aurash Mahbod, Google’s director of engineering, in the above video, the In-app Updates API gives Android developers two ways to push a new update to their users, as explained below:
1) Immediate in-app update (for critical patches) — App developers can display a full-screen message to their users informing them of a new update, which users can choose to download (if they want) and install immediately right then and there, within the app itself, before they can use the app.
For obvious or whatever other reasons, users can deny to update immediately and continue using the app, in case they are not connected to Wi-Fi or are low on the battery.
2) Flexible in-app update (for regular updates) — Using this option, Android app developers can display a small “available update” notification to users, giving them an option to accept it and then keep using the app while the new version app is downloaded in the background.
Once the app is downloaded, it will get installed the next time the user re-opens the app.
Flexible update also gives users the “Not Now” option, which users can select in case they don’t want to install the update.
The concept is good and definitely not new, as many applications already have custom mechanisms to determine if users are running an outdated version, then prompt them to install the latest version from the Play Store. However, the new API makes this whole process standard, smooth and easy, giving users a great new experience.
Aurash also said the company is currently testing the In-App Updates API in Google Chrome for Android and is making the new API available to developers who are early access partners. It will be available to all developers soon.
Google also says that Android developers will have the ability to completely customize the update flow so that it feels like part of your app, which indicates that all apps will not have the same in-app update experience.