At its annual developer conference Google introduced Android Instant Apps. With Instant Apps, users could use native apps just by tapping a link without the need to install them on the device.
This way of using apps will have a big impact on how users, engineers and companies will deal with native mobile apps.
Users won’t really differentiate if the content behind a link comes from a web page or from a native app, actually they don’t even need to care about it any more. Because an installed app increases the storage consumption on the device and because it could perform unwanted activities in background, users will be more comfortable using apps instantly instead of installing them.
Instant apps will also significantly decrease the number of app downloads. This number won’t have any considerable relevance any more. So companies shouldn’t rely on it and should use usage related metrics instead.
There are three main areas where companies can integrate their corporate identity within a native mobile app: The app icon, the splash screen and the first screen of the app. All those three areas disapear when using Instant Apps. Concepter and visual designer have to put more effort to integrate a company’s corporate identity in the content screens of mobile apps.
When using Android Instant Apps the Play Store will temporary download the portion of the app needed to serve the desired content. The size of these portions is limited to 4mb. To make this possible, bigger apps need to be devided into smaller modules, where each module is considered to fullfill a specific feature of the app.
Several mobile apps vendors already started to split their apps into modules in order to scale the native mobile development to several feature teams.
The big app dilemma
At the beginning of mobile computing, mobile apps were considered to be small pieces of software that solve a specific problem very efficiently. Over time companies tended to integrate all the features of their web plattform in a single app. The main reason for doing so is to avoid that users must install several apps if they want to use the whole range of the offered features.
With Instant Apps installing apps won’t be an issue anymore. Companies could split their big app into several feature related apps that can be built from different teams.
This approach is a considerable alternative to app modularisation, which is a real challenge for the mobile engineers.
Native App Crawler
Instant Apps open the doors for a bunch of great improvements. A logical consequent of having Instant Apps is a kind of native app crawler. A native crawler could periodically download all apps from the Play Store and crawl their content in a similar way as a web crawler does. After that, native apps content could be indexed and made available per a tap on a link. In contrast to web, tapping such a link would deliver the content using a native app with great user experience.
Android Instant Apps will definitely change the way how people will use mobile apps and how engineers and organisations will approach mobile app development.
An interesting question is how other players such as Apple and Microsoft will tackle this topic. I hope we don’t have to wait for a long time to get this question answered.