If you’ve ever downloaded a game on the Android Market, you’ve probably noticed that most of the more complex games make you download large files the first time you launch the application. This has been a source of frustration for many Android users, especially when you take into account Android’s 15 minute refund window which begins as soon as the application is downloaded to your phone. Adding a 1GB download to an application can easily eat up most or all of that 15 minute window, leaving you with sunk costs if you don’t actually enjoy the game.
The reason these downloads outside the market exist is because Google has limited the maximum application size for any app on the market to 50MB, hardly enough space for most modern games. As a result, game developers have had to host the additional files needed to run the game on their servers, and users are stuck downloading extra game resources directly from the source.
Yesterday, Google announced that they would be increasing the application size limit to 4GB, though the maximum APK (the core application itself) file size will remain 50MB. Developers will be able to add two expansion files, each with a maximum allowable file size of 2GB. The announcement comes a staggering 10 months after they announced this change would be coming back at Google I/O in May 2011.
This change benefits both Android users and developers. For consumers, you’ll be able to see the total download size directly in the market, and the 15 minute refund window will begin after all files are downloaded, allowing you to truly try out the game before buying. This change only affects newer devices, and older devices will still have to download the extra files via an external download server (though one powered by Google).
Developers will now be able to host all files related to the application on Google’s servers, freeing up space and capacity on their servers for coming up with the next great thing in Android (or, you know, whatever else you’d need server space/capacity for).
For more information on the change, be sure to head over to the Android Developers Blog and read up to your heart’s content.