At last year’s I/O conference, Google of a new initiative that lets users interact with pieces of an app without needing to go through the whole download process. Called Android Instant Apps, it was designed to streamline the process of installing apps, and now Google is finally ready to let users .
While only available in a “limited test” with just four developers—BuzzFeed, Wish, Periscope, and Viki—Instant Apps could dramatically change the way users interact with apps on their phones. For example, under the current system, if someone sends you a link to an item for sale in the Wish app and you don’t have it installed on your phone, you would be first redirected to the Play Store, where you would need to download and install the app, find it on your phone, open it, type in the item, and hit search. With Instant Apps, tapping the link would automatically bring up that page in the app, whether it’s installed on your phone or not. From there you could buy it or save the link to your home screen, all without needing to go through the whole tedious download process.
Furthermore, Google demonstrated a situation where a user could feed a parking meter without needing to waste time or data downloading the app first. Of course, if you wanted to download the full app, you could, but the process is designed to remove friction from what should be quick interactions. It’s kind of like opening web apps or Chrome Custom Tabs, but with much more power behind it. As Google explains, the experience isn’t watered down or minimalized in any way. Rather, the user will be using the full app, just targeted to the specific bit they requested:
“To develop an instant app, you’ll need to update your existing Android app to take advantage of Instant Apps functionality and then modularize your app so part of it can be downloaded and run on-the-fly. You’ll use the same Android APIs and Android Studio project.”
Google promises that full Instant Apps SDK will be available “in the coming months.”