Android can now automatically archive all the apps you never use

If you happen to be using an Android phone in 2023 that doesn’t have enough storage, Google has a feature that might be able to help you.

In a blog post, the company announced a new feature called auto-archiving. Google says that one of the main reasons users delete apps from their phones (or tablets, I’m sure) is to free up space – likely for other apps. Or all those photos and videos that you now have to pay to store with Google Photos.

Aside from that, it leads to that weird balance between deleting and later reinstalling the same app. To counteract this, Google is rolling out automatic archiving for Android, which it hopes will help both users and developers keep their apps on their phones and no longer have to go through the delete and reinstall dance.

The interesting thing here is that auto-archiving doesn’t mean auto-deletion – Android doesn’t simply delete the entire app from your phone like iOS currently does. Instead, Google says that automatic archiving results in an app being “partially removed from the device to save space while preserving the user’s app icon and personal app data.” If the user wants to use the app again, they can just tap to download it again and pick up where they left off (as long as the app is still available on Google Play).”

The company claims that auto-archiving “can automatically free up to nearly 60% of an app’s storage without removing app presence or user data from the device.” This is a great way to address this storage issue. You can use the app as usual and only have to wait a few seconds for it to download again on your device, but your data will remain.

If “data preservation” means you don’t have to log into an app again after reinstalling it, I’m all for that method. However, the company notes that “auto-archiving is only available to developers who use the App Bundle to publish their apps.” So please, developers, do whatever this is so I don’t have to log in and go through two-factor authentication every time I re-download an app.

The announcement of auto-archiving comes within a week after Google also announced that Android apps would require you to delete your account. The company is playing a small catch-up with Apple there, but it’s good to see this catching on across platforms.