Yesterday, on the first day of their I/O event, Google announced the launch of the Android Instant Apps SDK. Instant apps were first launched at Google I/O 2016, and allow users to launch certain apps without the need to install them on their device. Up until the announcement, which was made onstage at the conference by Google Play product manager Ellie Powers, only a few selected partners chosen by Google could develop the apps, although there were reportedly thousands of companies who were interested in developing such a product.
Instant Apps were opened up for testing by Android users towards the end of January this year. At the time, Google stated in a blog post that their new range of Instant Apps was aimed at helping Android users to “discover and run apps with minimal friction,” and offer many benefits to both the developer and the end user. As the app doesn’t require fully downloading, the content can be accessed more conveniently and easily, hopefully leading to increased interest. They are able to be opened quickly and conveniently on a user’s device by simply tapping on a URL, and removes the need to visit mobile sites or physically download the Android app itself. When the user closes their browser, the link is stored in the device’s cache for a few hours and is then fully removed. Instant Apps can be convenient in a variety of situations, such as paying for parking or tickets, or for use on a day trip. Some of the first companies to be chosen by Google to develop these apps included BuzzFeed, Wish, and Periscope.
Early reports about the popularity of Instant Apps seem fairly promising even though they haven’t been available for long – as part of the announcement, Ellie Powers informed the audience that there has been a range of 50 Instant Apps that have been launched up until today, from companies that include Vimeo, The New York Times, HotPads, and One Football. Some developers, including Jet and HotPads, have reported a huge double-digit increase in lead generation and downloads. Android Studio 3.0 Canary 1 Preview and the Android Instant Apps SDK, both available from the Android Developers website, are required to be able to develop Instant Apps.