Android is soon getting a much-needed app archive feature

Have you ever wanted to get rid of an application that you weren’t using at the time, but could not, because you might need it at a later time, and uninstalling it means losing all your app data as well as needing to go through the long steps of setting it all app to your preference once you decide to redownload it? On the other hand, you might just want to uninstall a particular app because it takes up a lot of space, which you might need for other things.

These are all very niche requirements, however, Google has been working on an archiving feature, that will let you remove “parts of an app” instead of the whole app being deleted. Google explains this will allow you to offload as much as 60% of the size of the app you are archiving, without losing your data so that once you decide you need the app later down the line, you will only need to reactivate the app “to the latest compatible version”.

Reactivating the app will restore it to what it was before, and all your user data will remain in place, saving you from starting afresh in case you had uninstalled the app as you would typically do when trying to free up space on your smartphone.

Google communicated to developers earlier in the year to ensure the archiving implementation would be as smooth as possible. However, fast-forward to October, and the feature is not yet out, but a tinkerer on Twitter has got it to work on his smartphone.

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The tinkerer, @AssembleDebug on Twitter, explains that the apps are archived on the Play Store through an overflow menu on the “manage apps” section of the store. This might however change on the final release. Once archived, the app will still remain on your device with a home screen icon, but it will have an overlay indicating that it has been archived. Tapping on the icon brings up a screen that asks you to download the remainder of the app before you can use it.

AssembleDebug demonstrates the feature using the Google News app, which only takes 1.4 MB of space when archived, as opposed to 32 MB when fully installed. It is certainly impressive and could free massive amounts of space for those people with tens of apps that they rarely use.

Since the feature is still in development, Google might still alter how it works, as well as make it easier to access it instead of burying it deep in the app management screen in the Play Store. Despite this minor inconvenience, the app archiving feature will certainly prove to be a very useful addition to the Android space.

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Naftaly is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for tech, video games and pop culture. When he is not writing articles for AndroidKenya, he is probably rewatching the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the hundredth time. Email at Twitter @KarisNaftaly