How many of us have a slow responding smartphone cluttered with apps? How many of us thought twice before downloading a new app with the fear of overriding our phone’s memory budget? How many of us get annoyed when we are forced to download an app for a better user experience that we cannot get from the same application’s website on a mobile browser?

We do not want to upgrade our phones for the sole purpose of installing more applications, but we would love to enjoy the seamless experience of an app without installing it. How is it possible?

Google has given thought to this problem and has come up with the concept of “Instant Apps”. Apple has also recently announced, “App clips” that are similar to Instant Apps. For users who ponder “I want the app, I want the app not”, “I want to have the cake and eat it too”, Instant apps come as the perfect solution.

What are Instant Apps?

Instant apps allow the user to partially reap the benefits of an app without downloading it. Let us consider an example. Let us assume that you do not use any ride-hailing apps in your daily life. But on one unlucky day when your car broke down, you wanted to take a cab to reach home. Downloading and installing a ride-hailing app, registering yourself, and then booking a ride would be overkill since you aren’t likely to use it in the future. Uninstalling it, later on, will leave residual files in your smartphone. 

If only the ride-hailing app had enabled the instant app feature, you just had to open (just open, not download/install) the app on the Play Store and book a ride just as you would if you had the native app in your phone.

Instant apps are a middle ground between websites and mobile apps. They are more powerful than websites accessed from browsers. They offer the experience of an app without having to install them on phones.  

Advantages of Instant Apps

As we have already established, instant apps allow you to enjoy the benefits of apps without having to install them. The other benefits are

  1. Direct navigation to the desired page on the app without installation.
  2. Instant apps are the best way to try an app for its performance before installing it. This works best for paid apps.
  3. There is no fear of apps running in the background and secretly collecting user data.
  4. Instant apps are easier to share. It is even easier for the receiving party to try it immediately.

How can businesses benefit from this feature?

Businesses can use the feature of Instant apps to their benefit in many ways

  1. The ease of access of apps will increase engagement with users. This might also translate to increased sales.
  2. Instant apps can be used to provide users an option to try before they buy the app. This will reduce the negative reviews from users who didn’t particularly like the app. After all, they haven’t spent their money on it
  3. When users have tried instant apps, businesses get instant feedback about their product based on how many users install the app after trying it
  4. Owing to the easy share feature, the app is likely to reach a wider user base. Also, hyperlinks to the instant apps can be given via blogs, websites, and social media thus increasing the user base.

Use Cases

As demonstrated by Google, one of the applications of this feature is a parking meter. It is not practical to keep a parking meter app on the phone for accessing a parking meter in a street that you visit twice a year at max. In such scenarios, one can simply tap the parking meter with their NFC-enabled phone, which immediately opens the instant app landing on a QR code to make payment for the duration of parking. This idea can be extended to rental bikes, umbrellas, and several such day-to-day use cases

Another popular use case is for simple mobile games like crossword or tic tac toe. Gaming applications have a larger scope for sharing among friends and social circles thereby widening the user base

Final thoughts

As it is supported by both Android and iOS, Instant apps are sure to gain popularity in the forthcoming days. This will have a great impact on how mobile applications are developed. To gain a wider foothold, businesses can seriously consider whether they want to launch instant versions of their apps.