First introduced in 2016, Android Instant Apps have been gaining popularity among developers and consumers. They have changed the way consumers can interact with mobile devices. They no longer need to install the application to preview some functions or use it occasionally for some tasks.
Let’s dive into how instant apps can be used, how to develop them, and what they mean to consumers and developers.
What Is the Purpose of Instant Apps?
Android Instant Apps are native Android apps that run with no installation which means that users can use apps without installing them on their smartphones. They can be accessed in two ways:
- By clicking the ‘’Try Now’’ button on any app that provides the Instant App functionality in the Google Play Store;
- By following the URL in Google search results and getting straight into a specific instant app.
Why would consumers want to use instant apps? Many apps are used only once or very seldom. For example, visiting a foreign country you may need a local taxi app or a public transport navigation app. When leaving the country, you’ll have to delete the app as downloading such apps takes up a lot of space in the internal storage of our device. So, it doesn’t make sense to store apps that you won’t probably use again. Instant apps allow users to avoid the process of downloading and uninstalling such apps, helping to save time and use your device’s storage more efficiently.
What Are the Benefits of Instant Apps?
Here are several most visible advantages of instant apps that bring value to developers and users:
- Seamless user experience. Without having to install a native app, developers can provide almost the same user experience with instant apps.
- Enhanced customer loyalty. After trying your application by using an instant app, consumers will be more willing to come back to download your Android app or opt for your services if they use it occasionally.
- Saved space on user smartphones. It’s one of the obvious pros of instant apps that help consumers to eliminate unnecessary apps.
- Ability to test the functionality. If a consumer isn’t sure if they need to download your application, they can always try it by testing its features in the instant app.
- Easy implementation for developers. Developers don’t even have to develop an additional Android app from scratch; they just need to modularize the existing one.
How to Develop an Instant App?
It’s difficult to develop an instant app if you have already developed a full-fledged Android app. Still, whether you have it or are just planning to build, you need to follow the steps below to create an instant app for your game or consumer application:
1. Developing an Android App the Normal Way
You need to understand that there’s no instant app without an Android app. First, you need to design and build it. So, there are many options for Android development, we mean who will do it for you. You may have your in-house team, hire freelance developers, or opt for custom Android app development services. Choosing the last option, there’s a vast majority of engagement models at your disposal. For example, you can extend your team with staff augmentation or hire a dedicated team who will be responsible for your Android app development at every stage. Thus, if you want to outsource all management and development tasks, it’s the best option. Nevertheless, at this step, you need to get an Android app ready for release.
2. Identifying a Use Case for an Instant App
Instant apps offer a native experience without the need to install an app, there are many use cases to extend an existing app with. Some of the examples may include:
- Car parking app
- Displaying restaurant menu
- Demo version of a game
- Shopping at online or physical stores
- One-time authenticators
- Simple navigation app
When driving a use case, be sure it’s based on the need, usability, and discoverability. The use case must be as simple as possible to become popular among consumers. Remember that use case identification is one of the most important steps because it doesn’t make sense to go ahead with an instant app if you don’t need it for your app.
3. Developing and Publishing Your Instant App
There are two approaches to creating instant apps:
- With App Bundles, and it’s recommended
- With feature plugins, but it’s deprecated
If you make use of custom mobile application development services, you may not need to dive deep into how to develop an instant app with App Bundles. Still, you should have an overall understanding of how such an app is built.
● Getting started with Google Play Instant
Android Instant Apps are created with Google Play Instant that enables your app to run the Android 5.0 version and higher without having to install them first. For using Google Play Instant, developers need to install Android Studio 3.2 or higher. With Android Studio’s tools, developers will modularize the developed application. It means using the pieces of the app’s code to deliver a runnable instant app.
● Mind Some Limitations
When building an Android Instant App, don’t forget that such apps can’t perform specific tasks as Google Play has some restrictions. First of all, according to Google Play Instant Policy, developers must reduce the size of the instant app or game to release (it must be less than 15 MB). Besides, as part of security measures imposed by Google Play Instant, Android Instant Apps and games can’t perform background notifications.
4. Making the App Discoverable
Once the instant app or game is published at Google Play, it’s time to check out if it’s discoverable for users. You can do it via a specific URL for the instant app. Make sure you know how you’ll distribute the instant app among your consumers. For example, you can include a QR code at the target location or advertising it on your website.
Android Instant Apps are a breakthrough innovation in mobile app development. Both users and developers can leverage the benefits of the technology. Users can now use an Android app in just one click without wasting time downloading it on their smartphones. Instant apps bring new opportunities for businesses to attract more users to their apps through new ways of product advertising and presentation.