Version Code Incrementer for compiled AndroidManifest.xml files

This little program is needed to easily create separate APK files for each processor architecture. The procedure would be as follows:

  1. Build your APK with any tools you use, containing all native code libraries you support, e.g. armeabi, armeabi-v7a, x86 and mips. I'll call it the 'original' APK file.

  2. Unzip your original APK to an empty folder, with any zip/unzip utility, best use command line tools, so that you could automate it with a shell script or batch file.

  3. In the folder where original APK was uncompressed to, delete META-INF sub-folder (this contains the signatures, we'll need to re-sign it after all the modifications, so the original META-INF must be deleted).

  4. Change to lib sub-folder, and delete the sub-folders for any other platforms you don't want in the new APK file. For example, leave only 'x86' sub-folder to make an APK for Intel Atom processors.

  5. Important: each APK for a different architecture, must have a slightly different versionCode number in AndroidManifest.xml, and the version code for e.g. armeabi-v7a must be slightly higher than the one for armeabi (read Google directions for creating multiple APKs here: ). Unfortunately, the manifest file is in a compiled binary form inside the APK. We need a special tool for modifying the versionCode there. See below.

  6. Once the manifest is modified with new version code, and unnecessary directories and files deleted, re-zip, sign and align your smaller APK (use jarsigner and zipalign tools from Android SDK).

  7. Repeat the process for all other architectures you need to support, creating smaller APK files with slightly different version codes (but the same version name).

The only outstanding issue is the way to modify ‘versionCode’ in binary manifest file. I could not find a solution for this for a long time, so finally had to sit down and crank my own code to do this. As the starting point, I took APKExtractor by Prasanta Paul,, written in Java, but I’m the old school and still more comfortable with C++, so this GitHub repository contains my C++ program to do this. It is a Visual Studio 2012 project and solution, but the actual program is a single .cpp file and could be compiled easily for any platform.

Become Pro in Android by watching videos