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This new Android feature will be an absolute game-changer

Android apps will soon update in the background while you’re using them, Google revealed at its annual Android developer summit.

During the event, the company showcased the new In-App Updates API, which will be rolled out to Android developers in the near future. Effectively, it’s a way of poking users into owning the latest version of the app, which can be important in terms of stability, security and access to the latest features.

The so-called flexible update will be customisable so, as far as users are concerned, it’s part of the normal flow of using the app. The update will then be applied the next time the user starts-up the app.

Google is also introducing a new mechanism for more urgent updates that will present users with a full-screen experience, with those updates applied instantly. The differences between the two approaches can be seen below.

This could be good if there’s a critical security update and users are simply too lazy to visit the Play Store to update the app, and don’t have automatic updates turned on. Some Android users may see this as forcing them into updating, but Google says users will be able to skip the update if they so desire.

Related: Samsung Infinity Flex display

In a post on the Android developers blog, Stephanie Cuthbertson, Android’s Director of Product Management wrote: “You’ll have two options with this API; the first is a full-screen experience for critical updates when you expect the user to wait for the update to be applied immediately. The second option is a flexible update, which means the user can keep using the app while the update is downloaded. You can completely customize the update flow so it feels like part of your app.”

In the blog post Google also outlined how its is adjusting Android to account for Samsung’s next-generation foldable displays. During the Samsung SDC 2018 keynote Google made an appearance to announce support, but Cuthbertson goes into more detail here.

She added: “When unfolded, their defining feature is what we call screen continuity. For example, start a video with the folded smaller screen – and later you can sit down and unfold the device to get a larger tablet-sized screen for a beautiful, immersive experience.

“As you unfold, the app seamlessly transfers to the bigger screen without missing a beat. We’re optimizing Android for this new form factor. And, making changes to help developers everywhere take advantage of the possibilities this creates for amazing new experiences, new ways to engage and delight your users.”

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