Before you invest in an expensive perfume, you try out its sample. Because it is a perfume and that would mean being stuck with a large bottle of fragrance that costs you hundreds of dollars and you don’t even like it. Similarly, before deciding on which bucket of ice cream you want, you try several flavors out before settling on one.
Since the world of consumers is highly saturated with options for everything, it is best to first try it out. It goes with everything! Products related to skincare, makeup, perfumes and even entertainment. Entertainment platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime and others offer a free monthly trial before you decide if you want to pay for it.
With the advancement of technology and the ever-expanding digital world, businesses have come up with a solution for their customers. Instead of diving right in and installing a new application that will take up much space in the customer’s phone, they can first get a glimpse of what is on offer. Enter, instant apps.
So what really are instant apps? Well, when you open the play store and wish to install an app that you like but not sure if you will like it, you can first give it a try. Apps that offer this option to their users will have a tab that says “try now”. Clicking on it would lead the user to get a native experience before installing the complete application.
Instant apps are ideal for businesses that have an application with large file sizes. This allows users to experience first-hand what they will get before actually installing it. Moreover, this virtual version will give the users a chance to peek at all the available options on the app. Once they are satisfied and like what they see, they can install the complete app.
Instant apps are often confused with Progressive Web Apps, which is not the case. Users and developers often mix the two and get the actual objective out of their sight. You see, Progressive Web Apps launches a web app installed through Chrome browser when users click on the “launch now” button.
An instant app will be installed on the phone without having to look for it on the Play Store. A specific URL will trigger Google Play Store to only fetch out part of the app that is requested using the web address. The rest of the application is not installed on the phone but only a small part of it. This option allows users to experience the native application features and the feel of it on their android devices.
Since the digital world is highly saturated with options for everything available at their fingertips. When it comes to apps, it is supposed to make things easy for users. Easy access to saving data, getting work done and having important information available in half a minute. Applications have made things easier for the users.
However, the question of ‘how many apps does a user need’ arises. And with that comes the second question, which apps would a user install and keep on their phones? The answers to both questions are simple: apps that they use frequently and apps that they trust.
Users are in the habit of installing an app, getting the feel of it, and then removing them from their devices to save storage space. Other factors include their trust in the application and the amount of access it needs to work on a device. With hundreds of digital frauds and privacy infringement incidents, users have lost their trust in apps.
This is where instant apps can help users to build trust and eventually lure them into installing the complete application. Android instant apps are a lite version of native apps which users can experience before downloading the complete application.
Development companies that work on android applications do not need to put in efforts on focusing on metrics like ranking and app installation. On the other hand, developers can focus on improving user retention and enhancing the user experience instead. Other reasons why businesses need to focus on instant apps are:
It is safe to say that instant apps are revolutionary and break through the clutter of hundreds of options for users. Anything that is different and everything that feels safe is what users need now.
Instant apps need to be activated for android users by following a few steps. The question if they are optional is debatable. With developers looking for ways to increase customer retention and conversion rates, instant apps are a good option.
Apart from the benefits and importance mentioned above, Google took the steps slowly but surely! As of May 2016, Google started rolling out the instant app feature for some users. It started with users of Nexus 6P with an android version of 7.1.1. Furthermore, it expanded to Pixel and Pixel XL with an android version of 7.1.2.
Since this is a new feature, it is optional. Users can choose to take a peek into an app before getting the full version. On the other hand, they also have the option to directly install the application from the Play Store. The user will have to go to the Play Store and look for the app the traditional way. However, they can have access to the complete version at once.
If you wish to access instant apps on your android device, there are a few simple steps that can help you get them quickly. Enabling instant apps is as easy as flipping a switch. The following steps should get you started:
Once you have completed the steps mentioned above, you are halfway there. Now you will need to search and then use instant apps on your android device. The instant app lineup was pretty short at the beginning with only Viki, Buzzfeed, Wish and Periscope taking the lead. Now, however, the list has gotten bigger since all businesses wish to keep their users engaged.
While instant apps are revolutionary, they may still be a hassle for some. The number of cookies and cache can mess with an android device. To remove data from Google instant apps and opt out of it, you need to disable them on your device.
Even though instant apps are a sneak peek into the actual application, it comes with problems that can cause other apps to crash. Moreover, they tend to update very often or keep downloading more and more instant apps without your permission. Such scenarios can get very annoying for users.
If this is the case, here is how you can clear data from Google instant apps:
Disabling instant apps is much simpler than enabling them on your android device. This will not only disable these instant apps but also remove all the data that was previously saved. Make sure to clear the cache and clear all cookies after disabling them.
Android instant apps will only work on an android version that is 6 or higher. Keeping this in mind, you can build instant apps easily. However, there are a few tools that will aid you in getting started. These tools include:
It is quite easy to upgrade an existing app into an instant app. Developers do not need to build a separate app to get instant apps for businesses. The same API, code, and project can be updated simply to convert an existing application into an instant app. However, the efforts and the steps can vary from one application to another depending on how each is structured.
The following step is an easy guide for updating an existing android app:
An instant app upgrade starts with developing a use case by focusing on user experience. The development environment is first set up by using the tools mentioned above. Then, the developer needs to install the SDK by going to Tools. In the tools option, Android is chosen followed by SDK Manager. After that, SDK tools are selected and Instant app development SDK. Finally, click on Apply. For doing this, a device that runs on Android 6.0 or higher will be required.
Once the developer has chosen Apply, the existing code will have to be moved to the feature module. This enables minimal application to be produced. Convert the ‘app module’ to ‘app-base module’ and change the type of feature module. This can simply be done by changing the plugin from com.android.application to com.andriod.feature. The gradle files then need synchronization to rebuild the project. This also transforms the source code into a reusable library module.
The next step is to build the APK module. The app name should be entered as ‘app apk’ from File to New Module. Dependencies need to be replaced completely in the appaapl. This is an application element and can be done from appaapk/src/main/AndroidManifest.xml. The developer only needs to keep the single manifest element and remove everything else. The core functionality of the apps will then move to a shareable feature module.
Once the APK files are ready, instant app modules can be built using only these. The app base module of the APK contains full features of the app. However, an instant app module can be built using a single feature APK module. Developers can create and update an instant app module using dependency on the base feature module. Keep in mind that the instant app module does not hold any source code but only the build.gradle file.
Finally, the app links can be defined that are required by instant apps to work. Since URLs are the only way to launch instant apps, these apps need web addresses. The instant app runtime can only be done when a common URL links the app and the website together. The easiest way to do that is by using a feature on the Android Studio called the App Link Assistant. This allows links to be associated with instant apps and websites.
Instant apps are an additional and a great extension to the mobile app development branch. Created for a specific function, instant apps are trailers to the entire application. Although Google has rolled this feature out to all its Android devices through Play Store, more companies are adopting it. Instant apps are great for a sneak to peek into what an app can offer.