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Android apps will update while you're using them

Developers will soon have the ability to let users stay in apps while an update downloads.
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Chris Velazco/Engadget

Getting locked out of an app while it updates is probably the very definition of a first world problem, but Google is addressing it anyway. The company is introducing a new API for Android that will allow users to continue using apps while an update downloads in the background -- or boot them out of the app when it's a critical update.

Google announced the In-app Updates API at its annual Android Dev Summit -- alongside support for foldable displays -- while celebrating 10 years of the OS. The API will give developers a couple options when it comes to updates. The first is a full-screen experience, which blocks use of the app until the update downloads and installs. That option is recommended to be used for important updates that need to be installed immediately -- critical security patches, bug fixes and the like.

The other option is what Google is calling a flexible update. When enabled, users will be able to continue using an app while an update is downloaded. Developers will also be able to customize the update flow so it feels like it is part of the app.

For now, the new In-app Updates API will only be available to Android developers who are early access partners. Google hasn't announced an official date that it will get wide release but said the API will be available to all developers soon.

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