Upcoming Android update could stop you deleting your apps

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Storage space on smartphones isn’t the problem it once was, but if you’re downloading a billion apps or have a cheaper phone, then it can sometimes still be an issue, and it’s one that an upcoming Android update – likely Android 13 – could solve.

Google has announced that it’s working on an app archiving feature that would allow you to archive apps rather than deleting them.

This would temporarily remove parts of an app, freeing up around 60% of the space it took up, but without deleting the app completely, so that it stays on your device and can quickly and easily be restored when you want to use it.

The feature would also retain any user data in the app and would restore the app to the latest compatible version – so no need to manually update the app after restoring if a new version has launched since archiving it.

So this would allow you to essentially keep all your apps on your phone, while still freeing up a huge amount of space.

Google hasn’t confirmed exactly when this feature will land but has said it will be launched sometime later this year, which suggests that it might be part of Android 13, as that’s the next big Android update, and we’re expecting to get that in September or October.

Analysis: good but not game-changing

Being able to archive apps is sure to be a useful feature, but its usefulness could be limited for a lot of people.

For one thing, presumably you won’t get notifications from archived apps – we’d assume they’ll essentially be hibernated, with the icon visible but nothing happening behind the scenes, so this won’t be useful for apps which you rely on getting alerts from.

Nor will it probably be of much use for apps that you plan to use soon or often. Rather, this is likely for apps that you only use occasionally, or don’t know when you’ll next use but don’t want to delete.

But given how quickly apps can generally be downloaded (especially if you’re on Wi-Fi or 5G) this solution may not be much better than just fully deleting them – especially as a full deletion will free up even more space.

And between cloud storage, microSD card slots in cheaper phones and large storage capacities in expensive ones, space probably won’t be a huge issue for most people in the first place.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.