A Google Android instant app refers to a compact software application that allows users to sample a segment of a native Android app without the need for installation on their device.
Instant apps function as native containers, possessing access to a device’s hardware and behaving like conventional local apps. A distinctive trait is that these apps do not occupy storage space on the device.
To engage with instant apps, Android users must initially activate the feature by navigating to Settings, then Google, and finally toggling on the instant app option.
Android users can encounter instant apps through various channels. One method involves conducting a Google search for a specific app. If an instant app variant is offered, users can tap the “Try it Now” button to initiate the instant app. Additionally, instant apps can be found on the Google Play store, where Google has integrated them into Google Play Instant.
The concept of instant apps was unveiled by Google during its annual I/O developer conference in May 2016. Subsequently, the following year’s conference marked the expansion of instant app availability to all Android developers. Google introduced support for developing instant apps with the release of Android Studio 3.0 in October 2017.
In the context of application, instant apps hold significant potential for e-commerce enterprises and game developers. Notably, The New York Times introduced an instant app version for its crossword game, enhancing its shareability and discoverability. Game developers benefit from instant apps by enabling users to engage with specific game levels before committing to the full app. Similarly, e-commerce organizations can leverage instant apps to encourage users to download the complete application, thereby boosting adoption rates. Another application involves swiftly accessing one-time apps, such as quickly initiating a parking payment via an instant app scan.
A primary advantage of instant apps is their enhanced discoverability, alleviating the challenge of app visibility within crowded app stores. Users find it easier to engage with instant apps, potentially reducing negative reviews stemming from dissatisfaction. However, instant apps also pose security concerns due to their modular structure, which could increase potential vulnerabilities. These apps exhibit limitations such as the inability to utilize background services, notifications, access external storage, or obtain device identifiers.
From a developer’s standpoint, creating instant apps is relatively straightforward and doesn’t necessitate additional expertise. Developers can opt to build instant apps from scratch or transform existing apps into instant versions, facilitated through Android Studio. Despite the simplicity, challenges emerge during instant app development, particularly when converting a traditional app into an instant one. This process demands modularization of the app’s code components. While some developers are accustomed to modularization, it can be arduous and time-consuming for others. Meeting the 4 MB size requirement for app modules can necessitate developers to refactor the app, or in certain cases, developers may struggle to meet this size constraint.