Instant Apps for Android, announced in Google's I/O developer conference last year, was tagged as a feature that would forever change how users download apps into their mobile devices.
In a post on the Android Developers blog, it was revealed that the feature has now been released through a few apps, as part of a limited test that users can choose to participate in.
What Is Android Instant Apps?
The Instant Apps feature for Android will allow users to download and run apps on their smartphones and tablets without having to go through the full installation process.
When accessing certain websites, users may see suggestions to instead download a particular app. The app will allow for a streamlined mobile device experience to access the content of the website, but users can skip the installation process of the app and access the browser version of the website instead.
Instant Apps will allow Android apps to open and load almost instantly on mobile devices. While not as fast as loading a webpage, accessing the app will only take a few seconds, much faster than having to download and install it first.
To take advantage of the feature, developers will only need to update their existing apps to include the functionality, as Instant Apps uses the same source code and APIs found in Android apps.
Android Instant Apps Rolls Out
Eight months after Instant Apps was announced, the feature is now open for limited testing, with the first apps to include the feature being those of BuzzFeed, Periscope, Wish, and Viki. The Android team will be collecting feedback from users who are participating in the testing of the feature, with the goal of expanding Instant Apps functionality to more apps and more users in the near future.
Users who would like to participate in testing Instant Apps can try accessing any of the websites of the first apps offering the feature. For example, if a user would click a link to a BuzzFeed webpage from Google search results, the Instant Apps feature will kick in. A module of the BuzzFeed app containing the webpage that the user is looking to enter would be brought up, instead of directing the user to the browser version of the webpage.
Instant Apps was expected to be rolled out by the end of 2016, so the Android team is late in getting the feature out by a month. The slight delay will likely be forgiven by users, though, as Instant Apps presents a very unique way of accessing content.
Uses For Instant Apps
Google is planning to have the full SDK for the Instant Apps feature completed over the coming months so that developers would be able to add the functionality to their apps.
However, there are currently only a limited number of ways that Instant Apps can change the usage of mobile devices, but it will likely become an important feature in the future as developers start thinking of ways on how to use it.
With the rise of virtual reality and augmented reality, users will soon increasingly need to utilize the complete capabilities of their mobile devices to access content instead of visiting a website, and Instant Apps will be ready to offer its services by then.