Will Google’s switch from APKs affect Huawei? Here’s what it says.

Huawei MatePad Pro 2021 Harmony OS

Credit: Robert Triggs / Android Authority
  • Huawei has clarified that Google’s switch to a new app format won’t affect Harmony OS.
  • Google earlier announced a switch from the APK app format to Android App Bundles.

Google announced a fundamental change to Android a few weeks ago when it revealed that Android App Bundles (AAB) would succeed the APK format. All new apps submitted to the Play Store from August will need to use the new format, although existing apps can continue to use APKs for now.

What does this mean for Huawei and its Harmony OS platform though? After all, Harmony OS supports APKs in order to run Android apps. Well, Huawei executive Wang Chenglu told the state-affiliated Global Times outlet that the new format wouldn’t affect the Harmony OS user experience or hamper development.

“The AAB format is essentially similar to Harmony’s Atomic Service,” Chenglu told the outlet. The firm previously described the Atomic Service as “future-oriented user applications” in Harmony OS that are “installation-free” and provide a specific function.

Related: Everything you need to know about Huawei phones

It’s unclear whether Huawei’s Harmony OS and HMS/Android platforms support Android App Bundles, although documentation seems to suggest the App Gallery supports the format. We’ve asked Huawei to clarify support and will update the article if/when the firm gets back to us. We hope the Chinese brand is working on support if AABs aren’t compatible already, as we could see a wider app gap between Huawei and Google as new apps are released.

Nevertheless, it seems like the new format could make life a little tougher for other third-party app stores and repositories too. Developers will need to manually export their app bundles as APKs if they want their app to appear on alternative stores. This is a double-edged sword, as developers get more control over where their app appears, but it does introduce a bit of friction if you want to support more than just the Play Store.

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