GT Explains: What is Android Instant Apps and How is it Useful

It was the Google I/O Conference yesterday and as always, there is so much to talk about it in the tech world. So many new things – apps and services were launched like Allo, Duo, Google Home, etc. But out of all these, the one thing that caught my attention was the Android Instant Apps. In simple words, the feature allows a user to work on an Android app without installing them on their device and from what it looks like, the feature is going to be a game changer.

Android Instant Apps
The newest Google Feature | Shutterstock

So let’s talk about the new feature as to what it is all about and how it’s gonna be useful for both, the user and the developers.

What is Android Instant Apps

Android Instant Apps is Android apps running on your phone without installing themselves. Basically, whenever we open up a website which needs us to install an app to continue or we get a link in our instant messaging which redirects us to a page on Play Store to install an app to view the contents, things become quite tedious. Just because you wanted to watch live updates of a cricket inning or you wished to buy a cell phone online, making it mandatory to download an entire app from Play Store doesn’t make sense.

What Android Instant Apps does is that it rather than downloading and installing the entire app to get something done, it downloads only the necessary code which is necessary for the task you are performing and executes it on the fly. You won’t even feel the difference and it will run just like a normal Android app. If you think you would want to use the app in the future, you can tap on the install button to get the entire app experience on your phone or just close the browser page to clear the memory.

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The Android Instant App download is limited to 4 megabytes and thus, it makes sure that it’s available instantly and does not take too much of memory on the device RAM. Google claims that a user won’t even feel the difference as everything will be as smooth as the app is installed on the device.

Uses and Availability of Android Instant

One of the most important uses of Google Instant is for the websites which are mobile only, and ask you to download the app if you are browsing from the phone. Using Google Instant, they can give you a taste of the app directly from the web and if you like it, you can go ahead and install it. These are also helpful in places like a parking lot where you need to pay for parking using an app but instead of downloading it, you can go to the pay zone and get things done on the go.

android instant

Google Instant App will not be limited to Android N or Marshmallow, but will work on any device running on Android 4.1+ (API Level 16) or higher with Google Play services. Devices which don’t have Google Play Services, most of them which are from China, will not be able to access Android Instant App for obvious reasons.

At the moment about a half dozen partners are trying Instant Apps which includes Buzzfeed, B&H Photo Video, and Medium. Google plans to expand Android Instant App and welcomes more partners over the next few months and users will be able to experience it later this ear.

For Developers

As a developer, Google claims that it’s pretty easy to be a part of Android Instant. As a developer, if the source code of the app is modularized, it can take less than a day of setup to make it Instant App ready. Keeping things modular allows Google Play Services to download only the part which is needed on the fly.

Conclusion

As far as my opinion is concerned, I am glad Google launched something like this. This can streamline a lot of things when the user is browsing on the web and he is suddenly asked to install an app to proceed. I just hope Google does it right and keep things simple for everyone to catch up to it. If you’re a developer, for more information and details regarding Android Instant Apps, you can visit g.co/InstantApps.

ALSO SEE: GT Explains: What is a Bot/Messaging Bot

Ashish Mundhra

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