In the near future, Android users may be able to use apps without installing them thanks to Android Instant Apps. Here’s a rundown of what Instant Apps are and what they mean for you.
What Are Android Instant Apps?
If a web app and a mobile app had a baby, it would be an Instant App. They’re small and load quickly like mobile sites, but offer the performance and power of an app.
Instant Apps are not full apps. They’re pieces of an app that you can use on the fly. With the tap of a link, the part of the app related to what you want to do quickly appears. No installation is necessary and restarting your phone removes all traces of the Instant App.
They load quickly thanks to their small size, a 4MB limit imposed by Google. To put that into perspective, Buzzfeed’s Instant App is five times smaller than its real app. The catch is that you only get access to Buzzfeed’s “Tasty” food channel.
How To Enable Instant Apps
Enabling Instant Apps on a supported phone is simple.
In your phone’s settings menu tap the Google category. Under the Services category select Instant Apps. Tap your Google account or the toggle in the top right to enable and you’re all set!
Why Do Instant Apps Matter?
Whether you need the full app experience or not likely depends on your usage across different apps.
I think Instant Apps complement rather than compete with real apps. They could easily become the new way to “try before you buy” in the Google Play Store. They’re also compatible with phones running Android Jellybean and up. In the long run, they could save Androids users a lot of time and storage space, while providing a way for developers to gain new customers.
On the downside, Instant Apps are only slightly better than forcing app downloads for one-off interactions like viewing photos on Yelp or Pinterest. Most are so basic that it makes more sense to grab the full app or move on. Also, the current collection of Instant Apps is small AF. I would love to see Amazon, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest added to the list.
It’s up to developers to make as much of their apps available as possible but that may not always be in the best interest of business. Let’s just hope they don’t turn into uselessly “lite” versions of real apps.
Instant App links are rolling out via the Google Play Store on Android. Don’t be surprised if they’re available via Chrome in the near future too.
What apps do you hope will get an Instant App treatment?