Once upon a time, Android apps were these monolithic packages that contained almost all versions of the app for all architectures and languages that it supports. Recently, Google has been pushing for a new system that put Android packages on a diet to make downloading, installing, and running them faster. Its latest trick is to learn how to better optimize that process and it’s pretty much roping in almost all Android users in a crowdsourced “study” on how apps are being used after they are installed.
Simply calling “App install optimization”, Google says it is learning trends in what users do after installing an app. It pretty much watches which parts of the app users jump to when an app is opened for the first time including what order they go through parts of the apps. When enough users send this data, Google says, it will be able to optimize an app’s installation and startup for everyone.
It doesn’t go into further detail but the idea is to perhaps prioritize the parts of the app that users are most interested in. This could mean that Google Play will download certain parts of the app first and download the rest in the background or optimize the startup of certain parts of the app. Whether this will happen automatically or if developers have to make changes to the app, Google isn’t saying.
Naturally, there will be privacy concerns over such monitoring but Google promises it isn’t gathering personal information or even looking at anything outside the app. The feature is also opt-in and can be disabled. Interestingly, it notes that even those with App install optimization turned off can still benefit from the data that other users allow Google to harvest.
Of course, the success of such a crowdsourced system will depend on how many users participate in it. Additionally, this only applies to apps in the Google Play Store so other app stores and sources don’t really get any benefit from it.