updated 07:11 am EDT, Fri August 17, 2012
Google flips the switch on delta app updates, saves bandwidth, time
Google has enabled delta update functionality in the Play Store. The functionality means that users on limited data plans, in particular will benefit from reduced file sizes when updating apps when not on a Wi-Fi network. Prior to this capability, users had to download the entire APK file each time was updated, requiring significantly more bandwidth than a delta update.
According to Android Police, the most recent update for Instagram was reduced from 13MB to just 3MB, also offering users a significant time saving when looking to update an app. The Play Store will give the appearance that is still downloading the entire file, however, when only the necessary files required have been located and pulled, the app will automatically begin installing.
The change was first announced by Google during its Google I/O conference in June, but the company did not outline a specific timeframe for its implementation. The functionality has been added on the server-side and appears to be a function tweak independent of the current version of the Google Play app that users have installed on their Android device. If users prefer to install the entire app APK for each install, they will need to delete the app from the device and redownload the latest version in full from the Play Store.
In our short hands-on with the process, it appears that some apps have the delta function enabled, while others are still downloading the full APK, particularly if they are relatively small to begin with. In addition to data and time savings, the functionality should also help to conserve battery life on the go too.