Android's Instant Apps feature, which lets people use an app without ever having to download it, is a godsend for folks who want to access certain functions but not commit to bloating their phones with an entire app. It appears Microsoft took note of such a feature.
Microsoft's Own Version Of Android's Instant Apps
The company has now launched a preview version of Playable Ads, which lets users try out an app, presented as Windows 10 titles, without downloading anything whatsoever. More importantly, it has made it easy for developers to implement it, too.
Try It For 3 Minutes Only
The apps, however, can only be tried out for three minutes, which Microsoft probably thinks is enough time for users to get a feel if an app is for them or not. For those lured by an app's performance during the three-minute preview, clicking on a link will bring up the Windows Store's page of that particular app, where they may choose to download the app in full.
"Playable Ads are a completely new way for end users to interact with ads and apps," Microsoft wrote in a blog post. "With this capability, end users never leave the current app."
Microsoft calls the process as inline expandable app streaming, giving a functional preview of an app as if it's already installed in the user's device. Microsoft thinks that playable ads hold a number of advantages, particularly with the complete freedom to back out should a user choose to do so. Playable Ads aren't ads in the traditional sense that users are blocked from doing anything else until the ad finishes its run. Users may abandon the preview at any point.
The company also says that users who try out Playable Ads are more likely to continue using an app they've already tried, because engagement has already taken place. By contrast, Microsoft says that simply glancing at the product's description and subsequently downloading it won't be as effective as getting to actually try the app firsthand, albeit for a limited duration.
Of course, the time level is possibly too short for anyone to immediately develop some of engagement with an app — it's unlikely for anyone to find their way around a complicated productivity app, let alone finish one level of a game in that span. Despite that, Microsoft still thinks Playable Ads are better than any presentation or description.
Microsoft Is Making It Easy For Developers
Probably what's most important about the whole schtick is that Microsoft isn't burdening developers with the new feature. They simply need to enable a "try now" button for their apps and Microsoft will take care of everything else.
It remains to be seen whether Playable Ads will do much of anything in luring people away from third-party digital stores, such as Steam — but it's a start. For one, it might enable users to try out a particular app they would otherwise ignore based on screenshots or description alone.
Any software developers out there who'd like to weigh in on Microsoft's Playable Ads gimmick? How would this benefit an app's initial engagement level with users? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!