Bulletins

Google says Android games can be played while they're downloading

The new play-as-you-download feature cuts install times in half.

A player competes in the mobile battle royale title Free Fire on an Android smartphone.

Popular Android games like Garena Free Fire often take many minutes to download. Google's new feature wants to cut that time in half.

Photo: Nasir Kachroo/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google has a new feature baked into its upcoming Android 12 that will make certain mobile games playable in a matter of seconds, no download required. The goal is to avoid saddling users with longer install times that might discourage them from completing the download, in turn helping developers acquire more users faster.


"It intelligently figures out what are the essential parts required to begin gameplay," explained Greg Hartrell, the product lead for games on Android and Google Play. "It's another example where we've applied machine learning to figure out how that works independently for each game."

The feature works similarly to streaming, Hartrell said, by downloading assets in the background while making the most vital parts of the game necessary to boot the software available immediately. (Although the feature is not a competitor or alternative to cloud gaming, Hartrell added.) Any game using the Android App Bundle publishing format will be eligible automatically, with no extra work for the developer.

Many of the world's most popular mobile games are free-to-play, but they also tend to be larger app files that can take many minutes to download even on fast internet connections. Hartrell said the hope is that speedier install times -- up to two times faster -- will help avoid those situations when users pause a download or cancel it indefinitely.

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