At the 2016 I/O developer conference today, the most fascinating feature was Google showing off a new feature called Android Instant Apps. By tapping on a link from a compatible developers website, you are able to use a ‘lite’ version of the app without having to download anything from the Play Store. It works in such a way that developers can “modularize” their apps so they only show you the parts that is needed for whatever you clicked on — points on a map, a video, some home listings, a payment system, or whatever.
Google showed off demos of viewing a video from the Buzzfeed app and a shopping experience from B&H. The tech giant that suggested it would be very practical for apps like paying for parking at a museum, where you don’t want to deal with the mobile web, but also don’t want a full app that stays on your Android device once you are done. After tapping a link, Google Play will download a few small parts needed for a brief experience. After completing that action, users have the option of downloading the whole app if you wish to have the full experience.
For now, this experience seems limited to what are, basically, types of web apps. It is at this time a mixture between web apps and fully functional apps but Google says it is improving on this time to time. Other tech giants, including Microsoft, have tried out their versions of these instant apps but the results have been anything but revolutionary. It’s not clear if Google’s Instant Apps will support complex apps or instant game play — Instant Apps will be limited to 4mb for now — but the demonstrations showed web apps launching instantly. Google showed off Instant Apps on a phone running Android KitKat, and says it will be compatible with Android phones all the way back to Jellybean. Instant Apps will be rolling out to users later this year
This article is part of our Google I/O ’16 coverage, to see more articles in this series, check here.