Google’s I/O conference is always interesting because of the new projects and products announced, but this year we saw something that may well change the way we use phones.
Google announced the launch of Instant Apps apps that do not require installation on devices in order to be used.
The basic point of instant apps is to blur the line between an app and a website, but it also allows mobile developers to do a lot more.
It allows more dynamic content to be made and disseminated easily without having to worry about who will be able to view it and who won’t.
It will also help Android users by streamlining their Android experience.
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The Need for Instant Apps
While Android and iOS have both evolved greatly, there are still issues that hamper the user experience. The schism between apps and websites is one of them. If you search for an address online and then click the link, it takes you to a web page but also gives the option to “open in-app” if you want to launch the Google Maps app instead.
A similar thing happens when you click an Instagram link on a web page; there is a divide between apps and web pages. With Instant Apps, this won’t be an issue at all.
No Need to Install
The fact that Instant Apps do not need to be installed is something that will help users and app developers both. The reality is that people do not like filling up their phones with apps they aren’t going to use on a regular basis. This means that many innovative apps never really get off the ground simply because people aren’t in the mood to install another app on their phone for different reasons like for instance: insufficient storage space.
Once you allow people to use an app without installing it, it gives the developers more of a chance to catch customers by giving them a taste of what their app can do which will probably become a successful marketing strategy in the following years.
Allowing the User to Do More
The biggest change that Instant Apps brings to the market is that it allows more creativity on the end of the developers and will allow users to experience more innovative things. Here’s a very simple example: Imagine that someone develops an app which allows you to create 3D models with your phone’s camera.
Currently, if you want to share a 3D model with any of your contacts, they will also need to have the same app installed in order to receive the message. With Instant Apps, the app developers could simply create a mini app only for viewing the 3D models and make it an Instant App. Now, if you want to share the model with someone, you simply send them the link, and when they click on it, the 3D model will open up, without them needing to install the app.
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This will also allow mobile developers to do more with their web presence. The issue with websites has always been that they have been too restricted because of the browser. The apps which are installed on your phone have a lot more access to the functions of your phone than web pages.
Instant apps will allow developers to create robust media rich web pages which can fully interact with all the functions of your phone easily. We wouldn’t be surprised if Instant Apps have a bigger impact on mobile internet than what Macromedia’s Flash once had on the Internet for desktops.
This becomes even more important when you consider what opportunity opens for companies and app developers. Think about a city which allows people to pay parking fines or bridge tolls with an app. Anyone from out of the city will probably not have the app installed and thus will not be able to use the app method.
With Instant Apps, it is possible to create apps that are rarely used, simply because you don’t have to worry about whether the user will bother to install the app. You just have to ensure that the app is useful for the one function it is supposed to perform and its use will be widely adopted by companies because it will be easier.
What Developers Need to Do
An instant app needs to be instantly downloadable. When a developer uploads an app to the Play Store, it can easily be above 50+ megabytes, but that is obviously not acceptable when you want apps to launch instantly. The solution is to divide the app into different compartments and load only the modules which are needed for what the user wants to do.
This is why Instant Apps have yet to be made available to the public. Google is closely working with selected partners to see how the Instant App model will work best it will then be opened up for everyone.