Something to look forward to: Imagine how nice it'd be to choose a game in the Google Play Store and be able to play it in a matter of seconds, regardless of size, instead of waiting for it to be fully downloaded. That will be possible on Android 12 thanks to the upcoming "Play as you download" feature that uses Google's in-house streaming technology.
The new game streaming technology was announced during a keynote for Android developers hosted by Greg Hartrell, product management director at Google. "Play as you download" uses an intelligent background download system implemented on Google's end, meaning developers won't have to do a thing to benefit from this feature.
In the video, Google showcases an implementation that lets the user launch and play a game much faster than using traditional methods. The background download system grabs assets to load first based on data collected about "typical first-play experiences, including memory access patterns." In the example presented, a 400MB game is ready to launch after 10 seconds. Hartrell also explains that when the game finishes downloading, the gameplay is not interrupted, but that's all done in the background.
"Play as you download" isn't Google's first take on reducing app launch times. Google Play Instant Apps allowed users to try an app without downloading it, similar to a demo. However, this feature differs in that the developer has to implement it instead of Google handling this.
The new game streaming technology will be part of the Android App Bundle, which will be required for any new Android game published in the Google Play Store starting in August.