Instant Apps and discovery

Posted on January 30, 2017


Stories are going around about the fact that instant apps are finally starting to see the light of day.  But what are they and why should you care ?

Firstly you should care because it should make a lot of actions we do on our devices much smoother and better.  For example you want to pay for car parking,  but don’t want to down the app from the app store, fire it up, pay,  then some time later find thi sold app you have used just once and remember to delete it.
Instead you see the web page, click on the link,  and it downloads and starts up just that part of the app you need at that time

  • Viewing a sale listing for a house
  • Paying for something
  • getting menus and reservations for another restaurant chain

you get the idea.  So it’s a quick way to use parts of apps quickly and directly.
This means if you have parts of your apps that are right for infrequent, short duration use,  outside of the main app (eg the viewing of a property details) then you’re a candidate for Instant Apps.  I happen to think that payment will be a big driver here, as in the Instant App you get the full Android experience.

For app developers it means you have to consider breaking your main app into modules that can stand alone, and be called directly from the browser etc.  This is key,  and not easy as often as not the app is not so easily broken up,  in particular the supporting parts (data management, login etc).  Also I am informed that we will need to be careful of dependency injection pulling in loads of libraries and the like, and blowing away the instant part of instant apps.

Also it will mean a new mental model for phone users,  to get used to the fact that they can call up small useful apps from the browser,  probably as a result of searching for something.
Which brings me to the last thing,  these instant apps should generate a large boost for Google’s ad income, as browsers regain some of their lost utility.

So look at what your users use your app for,  and consider breaking out Instant app modules to allow a friction free way for Android users to delve into your service.