Android App Bundles arrived in 2018 as a new method for developers to publish their apps. Since then, Google has been promoting its use until a month ago it established that the App Bundle would replace the APK on Google Play . The problem is that the App Bundle, in AAB format, cannot be installed on Android.
An App Bundle is in a way something like a ZIP file with everything you need to create the custom installable APK file for each device. It is possible to convert an App Bundle in AAB into an APK file with the appropriate tools, although it is a process that requires some time.
What you need to go from AAB to APK
An App Bundle has everything you need to create APKs, but it cannot be installed on the mobile itself
As developers start publishing all of their apps in the App Bundle format, it may be more common that you end up stumbling upon AAB files rather than your old APKs . For example, in GitHub projects where developer compiled files are included.
It should be noted that the App Bundle are not installable and, in fact, although the developers upload an AAB file to Google Play, what is installed on your mobile is an APK. The problem and at the same time the advantage of this is that the APK that is downloaded and installed is much more optimized for the configuration of your mobile and, therefore, takes up less. Be that as it may, if an application or game in App Bundle format ends up in your hands and you want to transfer it to APK to install it, it can be done.
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Android App Bundles: what are they and how do they differ from APKs
For this you will need a computer, Java and a certificate to sign the applications . It sounds complicated, although you will get these last two components if you download and install Android Studio . Android Studio includes Java in its installation and will automatically create your debug certificate, so it is a much more recommended option than doing it separately.
Additionally, you will need the Bundletool tool , which you can download from GitHub . It is a JAR file, hence you need to have Java installed on your PC before you can use the tool to convert the AAB file into an APK.
How to convert an App Bundle to APK
If you have an application or game in an App Bundle in AAB format and you want to convert it into an APK that you can install on your mobile, the easiest thing is to put the AAB and Bundletool file in the same folder on your PC , to avoid having to include the routes.
Then open that folder on the command line . On Windows, that involves hitting Win + R, typing cmd, and then going to the appropriate folder with a command like CD C:\MiCarpeta, renaming MiCarpetathe folder. Then run the following command:
bundletool build-apks –bundle = application.aab –output = application.apks –mode = universal
In the previous command, change the name of application.aab to the name of the file of your App Bundle, while the application.apks you can choose any name, as long as it is an APKS file, not APK . In a moment we will know why.
The process will take more or less depending on the complexity of the application and the speed of the PC, but generally it will not take more than a few seconds. Bundletool warns you that the Android Studio debug certificate will be used , although if you want you can sign the application with any other key. You can see the Bundletool documentation on the Android Developers website.
Once the process is finished, you will have an APKS file with the name you have chosen. It is not an APK, but a ZIP file that contains the APK file inside. Rename the APKS file to ZIP and open it with your favorite decompressor.
Unzip universal.apk and you will have the APK file generated from the App Bundle. Keep in mind, of course, that it is signed with a debugging key that is different from the developer’s key, so that you will not be able to update on previous versions or install official versions on top.