Mobile App Download Size: Concerns and Solutions


The concern over the size of mobile apps continues to grow. This means it has become even more important for app publishers to consider how to manage the size of their mobile apps.

Back in July, Engadget reported that Google Play would start showing the actual download sizes for apps. As the piece noted, this meant “no more guessing games.”

Download size matters, of course, for several obvious and key reasons, including:

  • Download time
  • Data usage
  • Storage usage

Engadget writes: “Besides displaying more accurate file sizes, Google also tweaked its Play Store algorithm to make updates even smaller. Most Android apps (98 percent of them) only download changes to their APK files when you update them, and those new files merge with the old ones. The updated algorithm will make those updates up to 50 percent smaller.”

In reviewing the process – the pros and the cons and what it can mean for both publishers and end users – ProgrammableWeb highlighted the time savings these changes could mean for users: “Google says when compared to its previous method, file-to-file patching saves 6 PB of data per day on a global basis. That represents incredible savings.”

Peter Reinhardt, co-Founder at Segment, investigated the issue further, running experiments and posting the results in a piece in Recode titled “We bought a successful app, loaded it with extras and watched it fail.”

Reinhardt wrote: “Apps are getting bigger. In the intense competition for consumer attention, developers have loaded their apps up with images, fonts, video, SDKs and more. The benefits of all of these are well documented, but you don’t often hear about the impact of app size on installs and usage. Larger apps tend to be slower to load and more likely to crash, and, overall, create a worse experience for the user. This can be the difference between customers actually using an app or burying it deep on their phones — or worse, deleting it.”

He continued: “Our engineering and product teams wanted to understand the impact of incremental increases in app size on installs and usage. Does app size alone reduce installs? And if so, how big is the effect? We spent the past couple of months conducting an experiment into these issues.”

The piece outlines the results, as does his blog post here.

Reinhardt’s conclusion: “Today’s mobile market conditions require that developers add images, features, experiences and analytics to apps, but it also requires a ruthless focus on efficiency and user experience. To help developers out, we built an App Size Calculator that shows how large your app is, how it compares to other popular apps and how to slim it down. Even minor issues with app performance can cost you users, and you might never get them back. When trying to design amazing app experiences, ask yourself if every addition is critical.”

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