Can you imagine a world where we had an app that does it all? An app that can do Facebook, online shopping, and more? Well we do, and it’s our web browser. However, web browsers aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, and it’s not the fault of the browser developers.
Let’s be honest, many mobile sites suck. They’re slow, they’re annoying to use, and they only know what cookies allow them to know. Apps are almost always better, with support for various APIs and integration with many services. Everything from logging in to paying is easier in a well-designed app.
But there are many apps we simply don’t want to install. Whether they take up precious space, kill battery with background processes, or are simply not going to be used often, some apps just don’t belong. I uninstalled the Facebook app more than one year ago, and I really don’t miss it and neither does my battery life. However, the mobile site (on the rare occasion I use it) is simply inferior.
This is where Android Instant Apps comes in. Google announced the feature at Google I/O 2016, and I think it’s a bigger deal than many people realize. If an app supports it, it can be opened without downloading the full application. You can hit a link from Google Search and get the app instantly. Developers will split apps into modules, so only the part you require will be launched.
Let’s say you want to buy something. You open a link to a product, and you get the site’s app rather than the mobile site. You can then buy the item with ease, logging into your Google account without having to enter credentials and using Android Pay for the payment. It’s a big time saver and doesn’t require you to have another useless app on your phone that you’ll use once a year.
There’s also the issue of security. Some apps have security issues or straight up gather data on you. It’s not common, but it happens. It’s great not to have so many apps installed, along with having to update a few dozen apps weekly.
Of course, all of its benefits hang on its speed. The app launch needs to be pretty close to instant, a few seconds at most. And it’s possible! If full apps are a few megabytes, downloading a module on an LTE connection and launching it from RAM rather than installing it should be near instantaneous.
If an app takes 30 seconds to download the proper module and launch, it’ll be far less useful than using the mobile site. No one likes long load times, and staring at a blank screen for half a minute won’t be appealing to most people.
Android Instant Apps isn’t a feature just for the tech nerd. This will benefit everyone who uses an Android device for more than just phone calls. Need to find reviews on a local restaurant? Launch Yelp temporarily and check it out. Yelp is a great example, because its mobile site gets more useless every day.
Who doesn’t want more space, fewer processes running, and speedier phones? This fall, Android Instant Apps will launch for devices running Android Jelly Bean and up, and we’ll be able to see how great it is. It all hinges on Google’s tools and developer’s implementations. How many of you are excited for this feature? What are your thoughts? Leave a comment!