How about running an app without installing it on your phone! Yes, it will be soon possible to run an app or shop anything you want without installing an app with just a tap with Android Instant Apps. Android instant apps bring in users more quickly in your app and offers rich user experience.
The intention behind introducing such a functionality is that Google wants to reduce the whole process for user to reach the target page of content and get the work done with just few clicks. And most importantly using an app without installing it.
Google is already working with some partners such as Buzzfeed Video, B&H Photo, Hotel Tonight, Medium, Park & Pay, Zumper and Disney. According to Google, Android instant apps will arrive later in 2016 and it will slowly expand access for developers.
What are Android Instant Apps?
They are just the mobile apps that run without any need to install them on your device. For instance, you receive a link on food recipe from Buzzfeed video app on your whatsapp and you want to view it. You just need to click on the link, instead of asking you to install the app, it will open the link itself like a website and video starts playing and you need not require to download an app.
Here the app opens very quickly and only the code necessary to display these screens is downloaded and run on the fly.
Android Instant Apps are built on native Android platform, needs no installation and also offers seamless payment and authentication.
How to build Android Instant Apps?
As a developer, you don’t need to build a new, separate app. You can enable this functionality by just upgrading your existing app. It uses the same Android APIs, same source code and same or existing Android studio project. It can take less than a day to set up Android instant app, depending on how your app is built. Developers just need to modularize their apps and Google play only downloads the parts that are needed on the fly.
Android Instant Apps is compatible with all the Android app versions and with the device that are running Android 4.1 (API level 16) and have Google play service installed in it. There is also no limit on the number of instant apps that developers can make, the only restrictions of Android instant app is that it can’t use background services, access unique device identifiers or do background notifications.
Android Instant Apps uses runtime permissions model introduced in Android 6.0 If an app supports permission model in Android 6.0 (API level 23), then it does not require any additional work to become instant app that runs on older devices. Developers need to use Android Marshmallows or Android N permission. Developers can publish instant apps through Google Play Developer Console.
Wondering how it can work with the shopping apps, Its simple! Let’s take an example of B&H Photo, largest non-chain photo and video equipment store in US. Suppose you are searching for a particular camera you want to buy in Google search engine, you type the model in search engine and you see an offer from B&H Photo, with one tap the B&H app opens up deep link right to the camera you want to buy.
Technically, it’s the deep link right to the Android activity that B&H wrote that displays the product you are looking for and that’s the only code that Google Play needed to download. You can also go ahead and read about the camera and add it to your cart and here Android pay also works just like as you have the app installed. With Android Instant app you are already signed in and ready to pay.
The two examples above showed how Android instant app works with Buzzfeed app via shared link and with B&H Photo app via Google search.
Another example will show you how it works with app such as Pay and Park via NFC (Near Field Communication). Imagine you are in a city and you need to pay for the parking with whatever parking app is being used and you don’t have that parking app in your phone. Here you just need to tap your phone on the mirror and hold your phone to the parking meter, with the help of NFC, it opens up the parking app immediately. Choose how long you want to park and pay with the Android pay or Google wallet account. Your work is done with an app, without actually installing it.
For users Android Instant app is totally seamless from launching the app, signing in and making things. Instant app is about making user experience more seamless and this move by Google comes at a time when app store is overrunning with lot and content and consumers less interested to install or try new apps.
According to the 2015 research on mobile behaviour, consumer spend 85% of their time on smartphone using applications, but very few of them spend time using third-party applications. In such a scenario, Android Instant Apps could help developers to get their apps on users device or smartphones, only if these instant apps are implemented correctly.
Pritam Barhate, with an experience of 14+ years in technology, heads Technology Innovation at Mobisoft Infotech. He has a rich experience in design and development. He has been a consultant for a variety of industries and startups. At Mobisoft Infotech, he primarily focuses on technology resources and develops the most advanced solutions.