When Google first announced Instant Apps for Android, it made sense on a conceptual level. Why install a full app if you intend to use only one feature off of it? It made for a surprisingly intuitive solution for the imbalanced trade-off, but is it really what it's cut out to be?
Sure, it'll benefit users by giving them limited access to an app's services without needing a full install, but what does Instant App mean for developers who rely on revenue to sustain operations?
People have relied on apps since the dawn of the mobile platform. Surely you'll remember Apple's remarkable "There's an app for that" catchphrase suffixed at the end of its promotional videos years ago, at a time when apps were fairly nascent yet progressively swelling at an unimaginable rate. With Instant Apps, Google essentially wants users to interact with apps the way they use the internet: ask for help, get help and leave.
What Instant Apps Mean For Android Developers
"How do we make it possible for people to access a wider range of apps, seamlessly? How do we help developers reach more people?" wrote Suresh Ganapathy, product manager for Android Instant Apps.
This is the driving force that resulted in Instant Apps. Google is being friendly to developers and it wants to turn their apps as part of its mobile search ecosystem to bring results to those who look for it.
Under its consumer benefit veneer, however, Instant Apps are ultimately poised to dent monetization prospects of app developers since users would increasingly reject the idea of installing their app if they can simply take advantage of one or several features and then withdraw instantaneously afterward.
Let's parse it down further. If users are turn away from downloading the apps in full, this disrupts engagement. If users begin to exclusively use Instant Apps, measurement of active users would be a challenge to narrow down. This speaks volumes for developers' ability to reap profits off their products or provide app updates since users wouldn't really take interest in those; they won't care about app updates for apps they don't have installed. It's a win-lose situation.
What This Means For Google
Let's take a look at what Google wants.
It wants for more people to rely on mobile search. More likely, it wants people to preconceptually rely on mobile search for all queries, and this time, that includes apps. Does Google make money off of mobile search? Yes. Can Google monetize off Instant Apps? Possibly, since the system of Instant Apps will now be, in broad strokes, integrated into its mobile search indexing. Not only do you save storage, but choosing not to install an app but instead use a single feature through search would mean participating in Google's search ecosystem, a complex process that results in Google making bank off Instant Apps aside from collecting information from users.
Currently, only 27 percent of app downloads come from search results since users most likely discover apps through the proprietary app store, like the Google Play Store instead of the search engine. Google likely wants that to surge, aside from helping developers reach their target customers more easily.
Instant Apps are available now on select Android 7.0 Nougat devices, and they perform surprisingly well, almost better than the experience you'd get from using hyperlinks on the web.
The relationship that will be forged by developers and Google with the eventual rollout of Instant Apps remains unclear, but for us customers who don't want to fork out too much effort installing one app after another, Instant Apps are a great way to do what needs to be done and never return afterward.
Will you use Instant Apps instead of opting to install the full one? Tell us why in the comments section below!