Android app size limit boosted to 4GB

Apps in the Android Market are no longer limited to a paltry 50MB as an extra 4GB is now afforded to developers of the platform.

APK files still have a 50MB limit but there is now an allowance for an app to have two expansion files, each one up to 2GB, in whatever format the developer wishes.

The move means that the Android Market has finally decided to keep up with the rapid hardware advancement of Google's mobile platform. There's no point having quad-core machines capable of detailed 3D gaming if it's going to be an issue hosting and shipping the games.

Previously, the Android Market would simply host installer files up to the 50MB download limit (44MB for RipTide GP, 8.9MB for GTA III and so on). With game data often being very large, the installation file would point the Android device in the direction of the developer's own server to download the relevant data pack with the correct texture compression.

For example, Gameloft's Backstab HD is a 1.48MB file in the Android Market. Once downloaded it then fetches the remaining  448MB from Gameloft.

"Android applications have historically been limited to a maximum size of 50MB," said Google Developer Advocate, Tim Bray. "This works for most apps, and smaller is usually better - every megabyte you add makes it harder for your users to download and get started. However, some types of apps, like high-quality 3D interactive games, require more local resources.

"On most newer devices, when users download your app from Android Market, the expansion files will be downloaded automatically, and the refund period won’t start until the expansion files are downloaded. On older devices, your app will download the expansion files the first time it runs."

Fandroids won't really see any difference - the move is really intended as a bonus for developers.