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Google Play enables smart app updates, conserving batteries

New delta updates feature at Google Play allows users to avoid downloading the app in its entirety, sending only what's new.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Steven Musil

Google has enabled a Google Play feature that promises to save Android app users time and bandwidth.

The Web giant is now offering the ability for app users to download delta updates from its Google Play, the folks over at the Android Police blog have discovered.

Previously, an updated app meant downloading it again in full, which could put a strain on a device's battery if the app was large and the connection slow. The new smart downloads allows users to avoid downloading the app in toto, send only the incremental difference between the old and new versions, thereby saving data for the app user and Google.

First announced at the Google I/O conference in June, engineers predicted that delta updates would be about a third of the size of a full download, easing the pressure on users' batteries and bandwidths.

The feature quietly went live last night or early this morning, according to Android Police, and appears to work with previous Google Play releases, such as 3.7.15.

CNET has contacted Google for comment and more information and will update this report when we learn more.

In the meantime, check out this video of the delta updates in action: