Google Begins Testing Android Instant Apps

Premiered at Google I/O in 2016, Android Instant Apps are finally making their debut.

Instant Apps for Android enable users to experience developers’ full mobile applications without having to download & install them to their phones. Per Google, this offers an incentive for people to engage with apps that they may use sparingly—and not want to waste precious storage on for limited interaction.

Android Instant Apps can be experienced directly from search, social media, instant messages; practically anywhere that a developer’s mobile web site would typically open via deep link on most Android devices. Google Play services are built in as well, enabling developers to take advantage of the same capabilities (payments, location, and Firebase analytics, among others) as they would if a user installed their app. Developers can monetize their Instant App in the same manner as their downloadable version as well.

As of now, only four publishers are running Instant Apps via Google Play: Buzzfeed, Viki, Periscope, and Wish. Last May, Google stated that “half a dozen” premium partners had already signed up for the trial, including Disney, Medium, and Hotel Tonight.

Though Instant Apps is relatively new to Google Play, the idea behind “temporary applications” for Android users certainly is not. Back in 2014, it was rumored that Google would explore the possibility of enabling users to try paid apps before they committed to purchasing them—basically a “test drive” option. While this never made it past the beta stage (likely because of limited success), it could be argued that Instant Apps is the next logical iteration of this idea.

To become eligible for Instant Apps, Android developers need to take a few steps with their existing applications; including modularizing the app so parts of it can be used “on the fly”. Interested developers can add their name to this list to be considered for the Android Instant App trial as new apps are added.