an AAB (Android App Bundle) file is not an APK (Android Package) file, although they are related to Android app distribution. Both AAB and APK files are used for packaging and distributing Android applications, but they serve different purposes.
APK (Android Package):
- An APK is the traditional Android app package that contains all the resources and code needed to run an Android app on a device.
- It includes compiled code (Dalvik bytecode or ART bytecode), resources, assets, and the AndroidManifest.xml file.
- APK files are generated when you build an Android app and are used for distribution through app stores like the Google Play Store or for sideloading onto devices.
AAB (Android App Bundle):
- An AAB is a publishing format introduced by Google to help developers deliver more efficient and optimized APKs to users.
- Instead of building a single, monolithic APK, an AAB contains the app’s compiled code and resources, but it is not a final distribution package.
- When a user downloads an app from the Google Play Store, Google Play dynamically generates optimized APKs based on the user’s device configuration from the AAB.
- AABs allow for features like app bundles, which can reduce the size of app downloads, enable dynamic delivery of features, and optimize resources for specific device configurations.
In summary, while an APK is a standalone executable package for an Android app, an AAB is a publishing format that enables more efficient distribution of Android apps through the Google Play Store. When a user downloads an app from the Play Store, the store generates an optimized APK based on the device’s characteristics from the AAB.