Instant Apps Development: How to Create One for Business
Google instant apps are not a new concept in the Android ecosystem.
The giant introduced the technology in 2015. Those convenient alternatives came to this world just in time, speeding up all the processes and being super-flexible for users.
However, many businesses still haven’t discovered the real power of such solutions and the benefits they can get.
This article will take you through the specifics of creating an instant app for Android and reveal why businesses should consider this option an attractive investment opportunity.
Here’s what you’ll learn inside our guide:
- What are Android instant apps?
- Android instant app vs. PWA
- Android instant apps examples
- Business benefits of instant apps development
- How to create an instant app Android
- Best UX practices for instant apps development
While a PWA is a full-fledged solution with all the features of a mobile application, instant apps serve another purpose. They allow users to get a glimpse of your application and even test its features without being forced to download the app. This absolutely user-centric solution offers users to check in the app to later decide whether they want to install the full version or not.
What are Android Instant Apps?
Instant apps in Android are a type of native apps that don’t require installations to run. They combine the power of native applications and the accessibility of web apps.
At first glance, instant applications look like traditional native applications. They are very different when it comes to their technical part.
Instant applications are created by turning some functionality of a native app into a standalone module. The rest of the application’s features are not available to users. They would need to download and install the whole native app to access it. As soon as users close an instant app, it disappears from their mobile device.
Let’s dive a little deeper into how Google instant apps operate from a technical perspective.
How Do Instant Apps Work?
Users can access an instant app by following a URL. When Google Play receives a request for a URL, it looks up an instant app that matches it. After identifying the app, Google Play sends the necessary code file to the user’s mobile device. The device automatically opens the file and runs the app. As soon as the user closes the app, it’s deleted from the smartphone.
Check the image below demonstrating how Google instant apps work.
Android Instant App vs. PWA
Instant applications are often confused with another innovative technology – progressive web applications.
PWAs were also introduced by Google and combined features of native apps and web solutions. You can use them offline without the need to download the app.
PWAs and instant apps might seem similar but differ in several details. Look at the table below explaining the key differences.
|Google Instant Apps||Progressive Web Apps|
|No need to download an app from an app store||+ (unless you want to access all app’s functionality)||+|
|Shareable via a link||+||+|
|Icon on the home screen||+||+|
|Crawlable by search engines||-||+|
|Access to all features||- (only a small portion of features is available)||+|
While a PWA is a full-fledged solution that has all the features of mobile applications, instant apps serve another purpose. They allow users to get a glimpse of your application to later decide whether they want to install the full version or not.
Android Instant Apps Examples
Here are several Android instant apps examples. You might have even used some of them in the past without suspecting that they have an instant app version. If you haven’t, you can check them out to see how the technology works in real life:
- NOS.nl – the leading news and sports company in the Netherlands, uses Google Play Instant to generate more app installations.
- Vimeo – American video hosting and sharing platform managed to increase session duration by 130% with instant applications.
- Dotloop – a leading transaction platform increased engagement with Google instant apps by 62%.
- Strike Force – a game by Marvel that uses instant apps to increase the number of app installations.
- Evino – an eCommerce application that attracts new customers with an instant app.
In fact, there are hundreds of instant apps having success on the market. Jump to the next chapter of the article to learn how your business can benefit from such solutions.
Benefits of Google Instant Apps
Before you start instant app development, you need to understand all the advantages you can get from implementing such solutions.
Let’s explore some of them.
- User acquisition – instant applications can help you with user acquisition, one of the most challenging tasks for any business. Users can test the app and use its key features without installation. As a result, they are more likely to try it and install it later.
- Greater exposure – it’s quite challenging today to convince users to install your application. Hence, you might need to consider different types of promotions, such as sharing a link to your instant app on social media. Users can check your app without visiting an app store and go through the installation process.
- Improved user experience – in some cases, it might be more convenient for users to open your app for a few minutes than to visit a website. In such situations, instant apps will come in handy.
- Competitive advantage – you can turn an instant app into your competitive advantage. Users will be able to take a glimpse inside your application without installation, which increases the chances that they will want to use your application later.
- Enhanced online visibility - With easy access to your content outside the app, the instant app will be more visible and discoverable on search engines. It means your app will compete with websites and appear in SERP, increasing your organic traffic.
It is just a part of the benefits of instant app development. They can easily increase the number of app installations, improve engagement rate and turn visitors into users.
How to Create an Instant App for Android
Now that we have successfully explored the benefits of instant apps, let’s find out how to create an instant app for Android from a technical point of view.
Do you already have a mobile application? You can turn it into an instant app in no time.
If you don’t have one, include this task in the list of all the tasks for your development team.
Instant app development is not difficult since developers don’t need to create a new codebase. They can use the existing code, API, and project.
The image below demonstrates the key steps needed to create Android instant apps.
Let’s review each in detail.
1. SDK installation & environment setting
The first step of instant app development is accessing the Google Play Instant Development SDK. You can use this Android instant apps development SDK with Android Studio 6.0 and higher and an Android emulator that runs on Android 6.0 or higher. After setting up an environment, you can move on to the next step.
2. Code addition to a feature module
At this step, you will need to move the app’s code to the feature module. This action will create a minimal app module.
3. Module building
With the third stage, you need to know which functionality you want your instant app to have. After deciding on the features, you will need to build the APK module. This action will turn the app’s functionality into a smearable feature module.
4. Instant app module creation
Use a single feature APK to create an instant app module. This step will turn the app’s functionality into one that can be accessed as an instant application.
5. App links defining
At the final stage of instant apps development, you need to create a relationship between a website and the app. Such a link will set up the instant app runtime. Users will use the URLs to launch your instant application on their mobile devices.
Now you know how to create an instant app for Android. As you can see, you need to have a sufficient level of technical knowledge to turn a native app into an instant one.
Instant Apps Development: Best UX Practices
Instant applications provide users with a new way of interacting with mobile apps. Thus, such apps require specific UX practices different from native app development.
Let’s review some of the best UX practices for instant app development that will help you provide users with a great experience.
- Prepare a landing screen
Users access your instant app by clicking the Try Now button in the Play Store. In most cases, they don’t have enough information on the app’s features before hitting the button.
It is critical to provide them with a landing screen that gives at least minimal information about the application and its features. Make sure that the landing screen includes the name of your application and an overview of the app’s functionality.
- Lead users to Google Play
Instant applications provide you with the flexibility of backlinking. You need to remember that an instant app opens instantly after a user clicks the link. That’s why it might be a good idea to redirect them to the app’s page on Google Play, where users will be able to find additional information about the app. This way, it will increase users' chances of installing your app after trying it out.
- Allow completing tasks
Native applications provide only a small portion of the native application’s functionality. To avoid user frustration, allow them to complete the task for which they opened your instant app. For example, if you have an app for a news service, allow them to read the article to the end and only then ask them to install the app. Asking them to do it in the middle of the reading might ruin their enjoyment of your solution.
- Ask to sign in at the right time
Asking users to sign in as soon as they open an instant app might not be a good idea. Users may not understand why the application requires personal details at the beginning of their journey. Try to provide them with as much functionality as possible without requiring authentication. Ask them to sign in after they try to use some features that are not available without registering a user account.
- Restore user state after installation
The main goal of instant apps is to prompt users to install the native application. After performing the required action, don’t make them start over with the app. Users should be able to pick up when they have left off in your instant app. So, make sure you save the user state and restore it after app installation.
- User the same UI
Instant apps on Android should have the same user interface as your native application. Smooth user experience is provided with native UI. It means users won’t be surprised to see an entirely different UI, as such a situation might lead to immediate app deletion.
- Remove non-functional UI elements
Since you provide only a portion of the full functionality with instant apps, there might be some user interface elements needed for unavailable features. Don’t forget to delete them after the user downloads the app; otherwise, it will make the user feel frustrated.
- Allow sharing instant app URL
Users can’t copy the link of a Google instant app. This doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be able to share it with friends. Quite the opposite. Enhance your instant app with the feature of sharing the app with friends, thus increasing the number of potential users.
How to Find an App Development Company
This was a quick and short overview of instant app development for Andriod for a non-technical audience.
You will need to find a company to help you build a Google instant app. Check the following steps to make the right choice:
- Explore available options
You probably wonder where to start the search for developers. Clutch, ITFirms, Manifest and other platforms are great sources to search for a vendor with relevant expertise. Similar platforms list thousands of development companies that you can filter by region, price tag, and other factors.
- Check portfolios
In most cases, the company’s portfolio won’t include the direct mention of an instant app. However, you can check projects, evaluate their complexity, and determine which industries the vendor has already provided development services. Such research will help you understand whether the company will be able to deliver the needed mobile application.
- Check reviews
Customer reviews tell a lot about a company, so make sure to check them. If you want to further your research, get in touch with the vendor’s current and former clients to get information from the source.
- Contact prospects
After you have identified a few prospects, get in touch with the shortlisted candidates to talk in person. During the first interaction, pay attention to the level of English knowledge and cultural differences that might become a problem during cooperation. Ask the right questions to evaluate their experience and pay attention to the questions they ask you. An IT vendor won’t be able to estimate your project without knowing everything about it.
- Choose the right region
When outsourcing app development, you might need to work with an outsourcing team from a different country or even part of the world. The best decision is to choose a team with a few hours overlap with you. This way, you will be able to get in touch with them during your business hours.