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Instant Apps: What are they? How useful is it for your business?

Curious about trying an app but hesitant to fill up storage? Android Instant Apps let you experience apps directly on your device, without installation. This innovative feature saves both storage space and time.

Introduction 

Leveraging Google Play Instant, you can launch native apps and games on devices running Android 5.0 or later, without requiring installation. By offering this instant experience, developers can increase their app’s discoverability and attract more users. Google Play Instant is essentially a hybrid between the core benefits of a mobile app and a web app. Instead of installing an APK, users launch the app simply by clicking a URL. As such, all instant apps need to be accessible via a URL declared using Android App Links or traditional Deep Links. 

History and How the Instant App Experience Works? 

Google debuted instant apps at their I/O developer conference in May 2016, making them available to all Android developers the following year. Support for developing these instant apps arrived with Android Studio 3.0, released in October 2017. 

With Google Play Instant, users can try apps and games without downloading them. They can tap a button in the Play Store, Google Play Games app, or on a website banner to get started. 

There are two types of Google Play Instant apps: 

Try now: These are smaller, focused experiences of full apps, allowing you to try key features before installing the entire app. They’re perfect for: 

Apps useful at specific times, like local transportation, ticketing, e-commerce, or parking. 

Apps with many features let you explore their specific functionality before committing. 

Instant play: These are full versions of lightweight games that are playable directly from the Play Store or the web, without needing to download them first. 

Use Cases for Instant Apps and How They Can Help Your Business Grow 

Businesses can leverage instant apps to enhance their growth and discoverability by offering core features on the go. This user-friendly approach allows businesses to reach their target audience effortlessly. Users can try the desired feature without the hassle of installation, login/registration, or extensive exploration of the entire app. They can simply “push play” and access the specific functionality that suits their immediate needs. Discover how instant apps work in real-time scenarios below: 

E-Commerce  

Instant apps offer a frictionless shopping experience, allowing customers to browse products, check prices, and even add items to their cart without installing the full app. This translates to increased conversions and sales, especially for one-time purchases. 

Consider a furniture shopper looking for a new chair. With a traditional app, they’d need to install it just to browse chairs. But with an instant app, they can simply access the chair selection, add their pick to the cart, and check out – all without a full app download. 

Gaming 

Instant apps can be used by gaming companies to allow users to try out a game before they download it. This can help to reduce the risk of users uninstalling the game after downloading it.   

Think of it as going beyond the traditional promotional video. Instead of just watching a trailer on YouTube, players can jump into the game, test it out, and see if it aligns with their preferences. This hands-on experience fosters informed decisions and builds trust with potential players. 

For instance, The New York Times created one of the first instant apps for its crossword game. Instant apps enabled the New York Times Crossword puzzle to be particularly shareable and discoverable. 

News and Media 

Instant apps can provide users with a quick and easy way to access the latest news articles, videos, and other content. This can help to increase engagement and brand awareness. 

Local Businesses 

Instant apps offer a unique way for users to experience a limited portion of a mobile app without downloading and installing the full version. This can be beneficial for both users and developers, but there are also some drawbacks to consider. 

Pros and Cons of Instant Apps 

Instant apps offer a unique way for users to experience a limited portion of a mobile app without downloading and installing the full version. This can be beneficial for both users and developers, but there are also some drawbacks to consider. 

Pros: 

  • Reduced friction for users: Users can try out an app’s core features without committing to a full download, which can be especially helpful for apps that are large or require registration. This can lead to increased conversions and sales, especially for one-time purchases. 
  • Increased discoverability: Instant apps can be surfaced through search results or shared links, making it easier for users to discover new apps they might be interested in. 
  • Improved user experience: Instant apps can provide a more seamless and user-friendly experience compared to mobile websites, especially for tasks that require specific device functionalities. 
  • Reduced storage usage: Since users don’t need to download the entire app, instant apps take up less storage space on a device. 

Cons: 

  • Limited functionality: Instant apps typically offer a limited subset of features compared to the full app. This can be frustrating for users who want to experience the full capabilities of the app. 
  • Security concerns: Because instant apps run code from remote servers, there may be some security concerns, especially if users are not careful about the sources they access them from. 
  • Limited platform support: Currently, instant apps are only available on Android devices. 

Developing instant apps: A double-edged sword 

Creating instant apps offers ease of entry, but it also presents unique challenges for developers. Here is the developers’ perspective on this matter: 

  1. Simple setup for existing projects: Developers can use Android Studio to either create an instant app from scratch or convert an existing app. 
  2. Reduced workload for familiar developers: Developers already practicing modular code structure can seamlessly build instant apps. 
  3. Modularization hurdle: Transforming traditional apps requires significant effort to modularize code into separate components, especially for those unfamiliar with the practice. 
  4. Strict size limitation: The total size of app modules is restricted to 4 MB, often necessitating code refactoring. In some cases, meeting this size constraint might be impossible. 

Conclusion 

Overall, instant apps can be a valuable tool for both users and developers. However, it is important to weigh the pros and cons carefully before deciding whether to use them. For further information on how to develop and get started with creating your first instant app or converting your existing app into an instant app follow for next blog. 

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