Earlier this week, Google’s introduced what it is calling ‘Instant Apps’ for Android. Simply put, it’s an instinctive way of bringing native app experiences to the mobile web – providing access to deeper functionality without the need for downloading.
Triggered by a simple link, users will be taken directly to the relevant part of the app in question.
Upon completion of their desired task, the user is presented with a prompt to download the full app. In turn, this becomes yet another way for developers and publishers to get their apps in front of people without the front-end friction of downloads.
In order to get this feature working, developers must be willing to “modularise” their apps, which could take as little as “a day of work”, depending on the complexity and structure of their app.
According to Google:
“You modularise your app, and Google Play downloads the parts that are needed, on the fly. And when you do upgrade, your app will be available to more than a billion users on Android devices going back to Jelly Bean.”
The idea behind Instant Apps is not too dissimilar to Accelerated Mobile Pages, where Google carefully pre-downloads content for faster loading. With Instant Apps, app content is rendered in a modular way, with only certain parts of the app made available to the user.
In a retail context these modular components can function just like landing pages. One could even imagine Instant Apps being linked from PLAs or other search ads. Users would then be taken via deep link into an app experience without the app actually being open on the user’s phone. This allows, for example, an app-like checkout process to tap into Android Pay for expedited checkout.
Without knowing an awful lot about the technology that powers the process, Instant Apps appears to be a new manifestation of app streaming, which most users have yet to experience.
Google said it has tested the functionality with a handful of partners; including BuzzFeed and Disney.
Instant Apps hold significant and very interesting implications for the mobile UX, and for developers in terms of how they produce, market and expose their apps to users.