Build multiple APKs

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Caution: Since August 2021, all new apps must be published as App Bundles. If you publish your app to Google Play, build and upload an Android App Bundle. When you do so, Google Play automatically generates and serves optimized APKs for each user’s device configuration, so they download only the code and resources they need to run your app. Publishing multiple APKs is useful if you are publishing to a store that doesn't support the AAB format. In that case, you must build, sign, and manage each APK yourself.

Although it is better to build a single APK to support all your target devices whenever possible, that might result in a very large APK due to files supporting multiple screen densities or Application Binary Interfaces (ABIs). One way to reduce the size of your APK is to create multiple APKs that contain files for specific screen densities or ABIs.

Gradle can create separate APKs that contain only code and resources specific to each density or ABI. This page describes how to configure your build to generate multiple APKs. If you need to create different versions of your app that are not based on screen density or ABI, use build variants instead.

Configure your build for multiple APKs

To configure your build for multiple APKs, add a splits block to your module-level build.gradle file. Within the splits block, provide a density block that specifies how you want Gradle to generate per-density APKs or an abi block that specifies how you want Gradle to generate per-ABI APKs. You can provide both density and ABI blocks, and the build system creates an APK for each density and ABI combination.

Configure multiple APKs for screen densities

To create separate APKs for different screen densities, add a density block inside your splits block. In your density block, provide a list of desired screen densities and compatible screen sizes. Only use the list of compatible screen sizes if you need specific <compatible-screens> elements in each APK's manifest.

The following Gradle DSL options are used to configure multiple APKs for screen densities:

enable for Groovy, isEnable for Kotlin script
If you set this element to true, Gradle generates multiple APKs based on the screen densities you define. The default value is false.
exclude
Specifies a comma-separated list of densities that you don't want Gradle to generate separate APKs for. Use exclude if you want to generate APKs for most densities but need to exclude a few densities that your app doesn't support.
reset()

Clears the default list of screen densities. Only use when combined with the include element to specify the densities you want to add.

The following snippet sets the list of densities to just ldpi and xxhdpi by calling reset() to clear the list, and then using include:

reset()                  // Clears the default list from all densities
                         // to no densities.
include "ldpi", "xxhdpi" // Specifies the two densities to generate APKs
                         // for.
include
Specifies a comma-separated list of densities that you want Gradle to generate APKs for. Only use in combination with reset() to specify an exact list of densities.
compatibleScreens

Specifies a comma-separated list of compatible screen sizes. This injects a matching <compatible-screens> node in the manifest for each APK.

This setting provides a convenient way to manage both screen densities and screen sizes in the same build.gradle section. However, using <compatible-screens> can limit the types of device your app works with. For alternative ways to support different screen sizes, see the screen compatibility overview.

Because each APK that's based on screen density includes a <compatible-screens> tag with specific restrictions about which screen types the APK supports—even if you publish several APKs—some new devices don't match your multiple APK filters. As such, Gradle always generates an additional universal APK that contains assets for all screen densities and doesn't include a <compatible-screens> tag. Publish this universal APK along with your per-density APKs to provide a fallback for devices that don't match the APKs with a <compatible-screens> tag.

The following example generates a separate APK for each screen density except ldpi, xxhdpi, and xxxhdpi. This is done by using exclude to remove those three densities from the default list of all densities.

Groovy

android {
  ...
  splits {

    // Configures multiple APKs based on screen density.
    density {

      // Configures multiple APKs based on screen density.
      enable true

      // Specifies a list of screen densities you don't want Gradle to create multiple APKs for.
      exclude "ldpi", "xxhdpi", "xxxhdpi"

      // Specifies a list of compatible screen size settings for the manifest.
      compatibleScreens 'small', 'normal', 'large', 'xlarge'
    }
  }
}

Kotlin

android {
    ...
    splits {

        // Configures multiple APKs based on screen density.
        density {

            // Configures multiple APKs based on screen density.
            isEnable = true

            // Specifies a list of screen densities you don't want Gradle to create multiple APKs for.
            exclude("ldpi", "xxhdpi", "xxxhdpi")

            // Specifies a list of compatible screen size settings for the manifest.
            compatibleScreens("small", "normal", "large", "xlarge")
        }
    }
}

For a list of density names and screen size names, see Support different screen sizes. For more details on customzing different build variants of your app to specific screen types and devices, see Declare restricted screen support.

Configure multiple APKs for ABIs

To create separate APKs for different ABIs, add an abi block inside your splits block. In your abi block, provide a list of desired ABIs.

The following Gradle DSL options are used to configure multiple APKs per ABI:

enable for Groovy, or isEnable for Kotlin script
If you set this element to true, Gradle generates multiple APKs based on the ABIs you define. The default value is false.
exclude
Specifies a comma-separated list of ABIs that you don't want Gradle to generate separate APKs for. Use exclude if you want to generate APKs for most ABIs but need to exclude a few ABIs that your app doesn't support.
reset()

Clears the default list of ABIs. Only use when combined with the include element to specify the ABIs you want to add.

The following snippet sets the list of ABIs to just x86 and x86_64 by calling reset() to clear the list, and then using include:

reset()                 // Clears the default list from all ABIs to no ABIs.
include "x86", "x86_64" // Specifies the two ABIs we want to generate APKs for.
include
Specifies a comma-separated list of ABIs that you want Gradle to generate APKs for. Only use in combination with reset() to specify an exact list of ABIs.
universalApk for Groovy, or isUniversalApk for Kotlin script

If true, Gradle generates a universal APK in addition to per-ABI APKs. A universal APK contains code and resources for all ABIs in a single APK. The default value is false.

Note that this option is only available in the splits.abi block. When building multiple APKs based on screen density, Gradle always generates a universal APK that contains code and resources for all screen densities.

The following example generates a separate APK for each ABI: x86 and x86_64. This is done by using reset() to start with an empty list of ABIs, followed by include with a list of ABIs that each get an APK.

Groovy

android {
  ...
  splits {

    // Configures multiple APKs based on ABI.
    abi {

      // Enables building multiple APKs per ABI.
      enable true

      // By default all ABIs are included, so use reset() and include to specify that you only
      // want APKs for x86 and x86_64.

      // Resets the list of ABIs for Gradle to create APKs for to none.
      reset()

      // Specifies a list of ABIs for Gradle to create APKs for.
      include "x86", "x86_64"

      // Specifies that you don't want to also generate a universal APK that includes all ABIs.
      universalApk false
    }
  }
}

Kotlin

android {
  ...
  splits {

    // Configures multiple APKs based on ABI.
    abi {

      // Enables building multiple APKs per ABI.
      isEnable = true

      // By default all ABIs are included, so use reset() and include to specify that you only
      // want APKs for x86 and x86_64.

      // Resets the list of ABIs for Gradle to create APKs for to none.
      reset()

      // Specifies a list of ABIs for Gradle to create APKs for.
      include("x86", "x86_64")

      // Specifies that you don't want to also generate a universal APK that includes all ABIs.
      isUniversalApk = false
    }
  }
}

For a list of supported ABIs, see Supported ABIs.

Projects without native/C++ code

For projects without native/C++ code, the Build Variants panel has two columns: Module and Active Build Variant, as shown in figure 1.

The Build variants panel
Figure 1: The Build Variants panel has two columns for projects without native/C++ code.

The Active Build Variant value for the module determines the build variant that is deployed and visible in the editor. To switch between variants, click the Active Build Variant cell for a module and choose the desired variant from the list field.

Projects with native/C++ code

For projects with native/C++ code, the Build Variants panel has three columns: Module, Active Build Variant, and Active ABI, as shown in figure 2.

Figure 2: The Build Variants panel adds the Active ABI column for projects with native/C++ code.

The Active Build Variant value for the module determines the build variant that is deployed and is visible in the editor. For native modules, the Active ABI value determines the ABI that the editor uses, but doesn't impact what is deployed.

To change the build type or ABI:

  1. Click the cell for the Active Build Variant or Active ABI column.
  2. Choose the desired variant or ABI from the list field. A new sync automatically runs.

Changing either column for an app or library module applies the change to all dependent rows.

Configure versioning

By default, when Gradle generates multiple APKs, each APK has the same version information, as specified in the module-level build.gradle or build.gradle.kts file. Because the Google Play Store doesn't allow multiple APKs for the same app that all have the same version information, you need to ensure that each APK has a unique versionCode before you upload to the Play Store.

You can configure your module-level build.gradle file to override the versionCode for each APK. By creating a mapping that assigns a unique numeric value for each ABI and density that you configure multiple APKs for, you can override the output version code with a value that combines the version code defined within the defaultConfig or productFlavors block with the numeric value assigned to the density or ABI.

In the following example, the APK for the x86 ABI gets a versionCode of 2004 and the x86_64 ABI gets a versionCode of 3004.

Assigning version codes in large increments, such as 1000, allows you to later assign unique version codes if you need to update your app. For example, if defaultConfig.versionCode iterates to 5 in a subsequent update, Gradle assigns a versionCode of 2005 to the x86 APK and 3005 to the x86_64 APK.

Tip: If your build includes a universal APK, assign it a versionCode that's lower than that of any of your other APKs. Because Google Play Store installs the version of your app that is both compatible with the target device and has the highest versionCode, assigning a lower versionCode to the universal APK ensures that Google Play Store tries to install one of your APKs before falling back to the universal APK. The following sample code handles this by not overriding a universal APK's default versionCode.

Groovy

android {
  ...
  defaultConfig {
    ...
    versionCode 4
  }
  splits {
    ...
  }
}

// Map for the version code that gives each ABI a value.
ext.abiCodes = ['armeabi-v7a':1, x86:2, x86_64:3]

// For per-density APKs, create a similar map:
// ext.densityCodes = ['mdpi': 1, 'hdpi': 2, 'xhdpi': 3]

import com.android.build.OutputFile

// For each APK output variant, override versionCode with a combination of
// ext.abiCodes * 1000 + variant.versionCode. In this example, variant.versionCode
// is equal to defaultConfig.versionCode. If you configure product flavors that
// define their own versionCode, variant.versionCode uses that value instead.
android.applicationVariants.all { variant ->

  // Assigns a different version code for each output APK
  // other than the universal APK.
  variant.outputs.each { output ->

    // Stores the value of ext.abiCodes that is associated with the ABI for this variant.
    def baseAbiVersionCode =
            // Determines the ABI for this variant and returns the mapped value.
            project.ext.abiCodes.get(output.getFilter(OutputFile.ABI))

    // Because abiCodes.get() returns null for ABIs that are not mapped by ext.abiCodes,
    // the following code doesn't override the version code for universal APKs.
    // However, because you want universal APKs to have the lowest version code,
    // this outcome is desirable.
    if (baseAbiVersionCode != null) {

      // Assigns the new version code to versionCodeOverride, which changes the
      // version code for only the output APK, not for the variant itself. Skipping
      // this step causes Gradle to use the value of variant.versionCode for the APK.
      output.versionCodeOverride =
              baseAbiVersionCode * 1000 + variant.versionCode
    }
  }
}

Kotlin

android {
  ...
  defaultConfig {
    ...
    versionCode = 4
  }
  splits {
    ...
  }
}

// Map for the version code that gives each ABI a value.
val abiCodes = mapOf("armeabi-v7a" to 1, "x86" to 2, "x86_64" to 3)

// For per-density APKs, create a similar map:
// val densityCodes = mapOf("mdpi" to 1, "hdpi" to 2, "xhdpi" to 3)

import com.android.build.api.variant.FilterConfiguration.FilterType.*

// For each APK output variant, override versionCode with a combination of
// abiCodes * 1000 + variant.versionCode. In this example, variant.versionCode
// is equal to defaultConfig.versionCode. If you configure product flavors that
// define their own versionCode, variant.versionCode uses that value instead.
androidComponents {
    onVariants { variant ->

        // Assigns a different version code for each output APK
        // other than the universal APK.
        variant.outputs.forEach { output ->
            val name = output.filters.find { it.filterType == ABI }?.identifier

            // Stores the value of abiCodes that is associated with the ABI for this variant.
            val baseAbiCode = abiCodes[name]
            // Because abiCodes.get() returns null for ABIs that are not mapped by ext.abiCodes,
            // the following code doesn't override the version code for universal APKs.
            // However, because you want universal APKs to have the lowest version code,
            // this outcome is desirable.
            if (baseAbiCode != null) {
                // Assigns the new version code to output.versionCode, which changes the version code
                // for only the output APK, not for the variant itself.
                output.versionCode.set(baseAbiCode * 1000 + (output.versionCode.get() ?: 0))
            }
        }
    }
}

For more examples of alternate version code schemes, see Assigning version codes.

Build multiple APKs

Once you configure your module-level build.gradle or build.gradle.kts file to build multiple APKs, click Build > Build APK to build all APKs for the currently selected module in the Project pane. Gradle creates the APKs for each density or ABI in the project's build/outputs/apk/ directory.

Gradle builds an APK for each density or ABI you configure multiple APKs for. If you enable multiple APKs for both densities and ABIs, Gradle creates an APK for each density and ABI combination.

For example, the following build.gradle snippet enables building multiple APKs for mdpi and hdpi densities, and also x86 and x86_64 ABIs:

Groovy

...
  splits {
    density {
      enable true
      reset()
      include "mdpi", "hdpi"
    }
    abi {
      enable true
      reset()
      include "x86", "x86_64"
    }
  }

Kotlin

...
  splits {
    density {
      isEnable = true
      reset()
      include("mdpi", "hdpi")
    }
    abi {
      isEnable = true
      reset()
      include("x86", "x86_64")
    }
  }

The output from the example configuration includes the following 4 APKs:

  • app-hdpiX86-release.apk: Contains code and resources for hdpi density and x86 ABI.
  • app-hdpiX86_64-release.apk: Contains code and resources for hdpi density and x86_64 ABI.
  • app-mdpiX86-release.apk: Contains code and resources for mdpi density and x86 ABI.
  • app-mdpiX86_64-release.apk: Contains code and resources for mdpi density and x86_64 ABI.

When building multiple APKs based on screen density, Gradle always generates a universal APK that includes code and resources for all densities, in addition to the per-density APKs.

When building multiple APKs based on ABI, Gradle only generates an APK that includes code and resources for all ABIs if you specify universalApk true in the splits.abi block in your build.gradle file (for Groovy) or isUniversalApk = true in the splits.abi block in your build.gradle.kts file (for Kotlin script).

APK file name format

When building multiple APKs, Gradle generates APK filenames using the following scheme:

modulename-screendensityABI-buildvariant.apk

The scheme components are:

modulename
Specifies the module name being built.
screendensity
If multiple APKs for screen density are enabled, specifies the screen density for the APK, such as mdpi.
ABI

If multiple APKs for ABI are enabled, specifies the ABI for the APK, such as x86.

If multiple APKs for both screen density and ABI are enabled, Gradle concatenates the density name with the ABI name, for example mdpiX86. If universalApk is enabled for per-ABI APKs, Gradle uses universal as the ABI portion of the universal APK filename.

buildvariant
Specifies the build variant being built, such as debug.

For example, when building mdpi screen density APK for the debug version of myApp, the APK filename is myApp-mdpi-debug.apk. The release version of myApp that is configured to build multiple APKs for both the mdpi screen density and the x86 ABI has an APK filename of myApp-mdpiX86-release.apk.