Instant Apps: Extended Reach for Developers and Enhanced Experiences for Users

Instant Apps are fast emerging as an exciting area of new mobile experiences. They provide a way out for mobile users reluctant to install yet another app and commit a large section of their limited mobile storage to often infrequent or limited use of an application. At the very point of the installation decision, many users shy away from it to explore other alternatives that don’t demand the same level of resource commitment. Instant Apps are a great way to convert those users into committed customers. Here is how Instant Apps can help your business and how you can develop new apps or refactor your existing apps using proven methods.

Mobile devices come in multiple types, numerous screen sizes, several pixel intensities and resolutions, a variety of embedded technologies, and many exacting OS requirements. This sheer variety of often conflicting factors end up compromising overall app performance and user experience despite great advances in the underlying processor, battery life, and memory/storage capabilities.

Some of the empirical research conducted in large user groups shows that nearly 96% of the users voted for speed and high response rate as critically important, very important, or important for an application. A sizeable 91% expect the app to respond in less than 4 seconds while 49% expect the response time to be under 2 seconds. In addition, close to 55% suspect the application first for any issue and nearly 81% don’t hesitate to uninstall/stop using an app if they repeatedly experience poor performance.

Is it possible to run an app without installing it first? Can data be accessed on demand when it is not on the mobile device? Instant Apps are an evolution in app discovery and sharing which can address these very questions. They allow the user to experience native as well as new Android apps without any installation at all. By fulfilling high user expectations and providing enhanced user experience can potentially change the future of mobile app development. They can make exemplary performance and enhanced user experience possible. With Android Instant Apps, when a user requests a feature from Instant Apps, they receive only a URL to run that specific feature. Similar possibilities are there with iOS as well in the form of ‘App thinning’ using asset slicing, install optimization, and app delivery in bitcode.


For example, consider a typical airline app. When a traveler wants to just know flight information, he does not need to install any other features dealing with baggage, reservations, partner services, and loyalty program of the airline. There are exciting fresh possibilities in other areas as well.

  • For an app on insurance enrollment, the base app can just collect the user inputs whereas benefit scenario illustration, enrollment form, and questionnaires can be additional features that can be used only as needed.
  • A proximity feature can be implemented in a retail brand store app so that only those items that are in the user’s vicinity are available for purchase instead of the whole store app.
  • The feature such as stock check that is common across many apps can be deployed in many apps to address similar requirements.
  • Enterprise mobile applications which are typically an amalgamation of multiple features can be refactored into multiple Instant Apps to push their usage up among the customer base.

Instant Apps are a powerful possibility that one must definitely explore as they provide many valuable benefits such as:

  • Ease of access
  • Storage space optimization
  • Reduced time to install and use
  • Ease of sharing through an URL
  • Faster user acquisition
  • Integration with e-commerce avoiding duplication
  • A responsive, flexible and better experience for the users overall.

There are challenges as well in designing the Instant Apps right to have them work as intended.

  • There is restriction on some of the content as certain activities cannot start in Instant Apps by current design.
  • Push notification is not supported currently.
  • Access to device settings and external storage is restricted from an Instant app.
  • Overall footprint is limited to 4MB which may limit the possibility of a full user experience.
  • Android Instant Apps work only on Android devices of Android 5.0 (API Level 21) or higher.

But, Instant Apps are a new technology and as happens with any emerging technology, these limitations tend to be transient and are likely to go away with time and growing demand from users and app developers.

Based on our extensive experience, we suggest that the following defined steps are followed in developing new Instant Apps or upgrading existing ones.

1. Develop the use case in full detail

2. Follow modular design and prepare the app features accordingly

3. Implement Android UX best practices for Instant Apps

It is critical that you work with a partner who shares your excitement and has a proven track record in tiding over the challenges of this emerging area. This can make a world of difference in making Instant Apps successful in your enterprise and reach your intended goals. If you like to know more, here is some valuable information on Instant Apps.