Have you ever needed to access an app that you didn’t have installed on your phone? What if you could run an app instantly without installing it? That would be Android Instant Apps, and it’s coming soon.
From the user perspective, if you click on a link or interact with content that has a corresponding Android app, the Google Play Store will fetch just the component of the app needed to complete the tasks you were interacting with and load those (if you enable the feature, of course). Click on a video, and the corresponding app’s video player and UI will load. Bought something on eBay? Conceivably, the checkout page will load up including full access to your on device accounts for seamless sign or and payments.
Once using an instant app user can either choose to install it right for the interface or just keep going back to the Instant version. If you have a device with limited storage but a generous data cap (or excellent WiFi access) then this may be an elegant solution to inadequate storage, depending on how Instant Apps is set up.
This isn’t the first we’ve heard of this concept; the idea of streaming apps to Android devices was discussed late last year, but this implementation looks a lot more smooth. It shouldn’t be too tricky for developers to implement, provided that their app already takes a semi-coherent modular approach. Instant Apps don’t require a whole new project or a separate distribution; it runs from the same code that an app does. However, to work with Instant Apps, developers need to modularise their apps just so, in order that just the components users are actually using can be fetched and used in real time. Modules with intricate interdependencies might be a bit more difficult to implement, but one would expect Google’s put a lot of thought into this.
During the presentation, Google did mention it would only take a ‘day’ of work to get most apps ready for Instant Apps. Hopefully, this won’t be another developer option that has uneven implementation, leaving users confused and unsure if they are interacting with an Instant App or a web page.
There is no mention how this would work for paid or trial apps at this stage. Instant Apps is scheduled to roll out “over the coming year”. With a new feature like this, we should expect Google to work with selected developers to get the early implementations right whilst the community builds their knowledge of the new system.
Do you think you would take advantage of Instant Apps? Let us know below.