Multiple APK support for the Android Market means there's a good chance developers will be able to offer apps on a wider range of hardware.
Thursday the Android Developers Blog was updated with news that Google's Android Market now supports multiple APKs. This new change is undoubtedly one of Google's efforts to tackle Android fragmentation by allowing developers to create various versions of the same app and combine them in one Android Market listing. Previously Google allowed for only one APK per product listing.
"With multiple APK support, you can now upload multiple versions of an APK for a single product listing, with each one addressing a different subset of your customers," the blog reads. "These APKs are complete, independent APKs that share the same package name, but contain code and resources to target different Android platform versions, screen sizes, or GL texture-compression formats. When users download or purchase your app, Android Market chooses the right APK to deliver based on the characteristics of the device."
Signs of this type of progression towards Market device detection initially appeared on the web version of Google's Android Market last month. Users simply sign in through the web browser and select the desired app to install. The system then checks the compatibility between the app and the hardware listed in the user's settings. Approved apps receive a green "this app is compatible with your [device]" message or a yellow "this app is incompatible with your [device]" message.
But now developers will have the ability to provide additional, compatible versions tucked away in one offering rather than cluttering up the entire Android Market with multiple listings. "Multiple APK support gives you a variety of ways to control app distribution," the blog reads. "For example, you could use it to create separate APKs for phones and tablets under the same product listing. You could also use it to take advantage of new APIs or new hardware capabilities without impacting your existing customer base."
The blog states that the Developer Console has been updated with controls for uploading and managing multiple APKs in a product listing.
Previously Google revealed plans to unleash an entirely new Android Market app that will allow consumers to rent movies and purchase books directly from their smartphones and tablets. The Market itself has received another visual overhaul, this time casting out the whites and greens and taking on a more Windows Phone 7 "Metro UI" look. The new Android Market app is expected to roll out soon, but a leaked version has already appeared on the Internet to download and install.