First announced at Google’s I/O developers conference in May 2016, Google has launched a limited preview of its Android Instant Apps. The new feature allows apps to run instantly, without requiring installation, letting users experience the full functionality of apps on the fly. Apps available in the limited preview include BuzzFeed, shopping app Wish, Periscope and video app Viki.
Instant Apps will run on the majority of Android devices that use Google Play services.
Google finds new ways to deepen Google Play services integration
Google is wise to introduce Instant Apps because the new “apps” will encourage further adoption of Google Play services and expand its mobile ecosystem. Since Instant Apps take advantage of Google Play service features, such as location, identity, and payments, Google could potentially further expand its use of Google Play services. Google’s core advertising business will benefit from the data it can gather from the use of Android instant apps, and the integration with other features including Android Pay, maps and communications will further tie users into Google’s services.
Instant Apps could potentially encourage more app downloads – users can choose to download an Instant App permanently after previewing the app. In data-sensitive regions around the world, users can take full advantage of Instant Apps without having to fully download and install large apps, which use up data and take up storage space on smartphones.
Chinese internet firm and WeChat messaging app owner Tencent has already taken advantage of similar instant app features. WeChat’s launch of Mini Programs in January 2017, allows brands and businesses developers to build programs on the platform without users having to leave the app. Users can scan a QR code or search for the name of program to be opened within WeChat.
Attracting developer interest is crucial to Instant Apps
Developers will continue to use the same Android APIs and Studio functionality for building apps. For the moment, Google has noted it will launch the full SDK for enabling Instant Apps on Android in the coming months. Attracting developers is crucial to the success of this initiative and Google will have to ensure that the benefits of integration offset any potential loss of control that results from developers integrating with Instant Apps.