If you happen to find yourself using an Android phone in 2023 that doesn’t have enough storage space, Google has a feature that might be able to help you out.
In a blog post, the company announced a new feature called auto-archive. Google says that one of the biggest reasons that users delete apps from their phones (or tablets, I’m sure) is to free up storage space — probably for other apps. Or all of those photos and videos you have to pay to store with Google Photos now.
That aside, it results in this weird balance of deleting and then eventually re-installing the same app later on. In order to combat this, Google is introducing auto-archive for Android, which it hopes will help both users and developers keep their apps on their phones and no longer go through the delete and re-install dance.
The interesting thing here is that auto-archive does not mean auto-delete — Android won’t just delete the whole app from your phone like iOS currently does. Instead, Google says that auto-archive will result in an app being “partly removed from the device to save space, whilst the app icon and the user’s personal app data will be preserved. When the user wants to start using the app again, they can simply tap to re-download it and pick up where they left off (as long as the app is still available on Google Play).”
The company claims that auto-archive can “automatically free up to nearly 60% of an app’s storage space, without removing the app presence or users’ data from the device.” This is a great way to approach this storage problem. You’ll go to use the app just like you always did and simply have to wait a few seconds for it to re-download on your device, but your data will be preserved.
If “data being preserved” means not having to log back into an app after you re-install it, I’m all for this method. The company does note, however, that “auto-archive is only available for developers using the App Bundle to publish their apps.” So please, developers, do whatever that is so I can stop having to log in and go through two-factor authentication every time I re-download an app.
The announcement of auto-archive comes within a week after Google also announced that it would begin to require Android apps to let you delete your account. The company is playing a little catchup with Apple there, but it’s good to see that making its way across platforms.