Android Instant Apps is Awesome and It Changes So Many Things About Mobile
This week, at the IO conference, Google announced some very innovative technologies in the mobile and IOT space. Among those, Android Instant Apps seems to be capturing a lot of the headlines. Conceptually, Android Instant Apps provides a mechanism for launching apps directly from a deep link without the need to physically install it in the device.
As you can imagine, Android Instant Apps blurs the line between native and mobile-web applications opening new possibilities for mobile apps. The magic of Instant Apps is based on Google Play new mechanisms to only download and run the module of the app required by the deep link information. This would be possible because Instant Apps will be highly modularized compared to traditional Android Apps. However, this new models doesn’t entail any major changes for developers.
As a developer, you can use the same source to extend an Android app with Instant App capabilities. The main effort required is to modularized the app in a way that Google Play can download parts of it on the fly. As you can imagine, Instant Apps can bring a profound change to many aspects of traditional mobile app development. Here are some aspects that I think could be reimagined by the adoption of Android Instant Apps:
Discovering mobile applications in traditional app marketplaces is an extremely challenging endeavor. With Instant Apps, app makers can explode traditional content distribution mechanisms such as websites, email or instant messaging to reach users and drive them to their mobile applications. From that perspective, traditional discovery mechanisms such as SEO could even more applicable to the discovery of mobile apps.
The Role of the App Store
Since the launch of the IPhone, app marketplaces have become the main distribution mechanism for mobile apps. As a result, the battle for visibility in the app store is a constant struggle for most mobile app providers. Android Instant Apps could change the role of the app store from the solely distribution mechanism to a repository hosting the binaries for mobile applications. Additionally, Instant Apps might enable the emergence of other types of app catalogs in the form websites or messaging apps that will allow users to consume mobile apps without having to download them from the app store.
Driving Towards Smaller, Task-Oriented Apps
Android Instant Apps relies on the execution of modules within a mobile app. With the evolution of the technology, we should expect developers to put more effort into partitioning mobile apps into smaller modules that can perform atomic functions. From that perspective, it is possible that the new form of Android App will be smaller and very focused on a specific task in order to take advantage of the distribution and discovery benefits of Instant Apps.
From certain perspective, Android Instant Apps can be seen as a step towards Google’s dominance in mobile search. By leveraging deep links as a description mechanism and taking advantage of traditional models as distribution, Google can now more effective index and discover mobile apps using traditional changes mechanisms.
Until now, mobile advertisement has focused on delivering targeted content within specific mobile applications. Using Android Instant Apps, deep links to mobile apps can be distributed via traditional channels such as websites, emails, messaging platforms, SMS etc. That fact can profoundly change the role of mobile advertisement as app makers can start leveraging those traditional channels to improve the discoverability of their mobile app. Additionally, the modularization of Instant Apps opens the door for more targeted advertisement mechanisms.
Downloads, active sessions, recurrent users, etc are some of the traditional metrics in mobile analytics. The entire mobile analytics model has been conceived based on the notion that a user will download an app from a marketplace and open it on a regular basics. Android Instant Apps introduces new forms for launching mobile applications without having to install the full app. That model brings a series of new metrics to describe the user behavior in mobile apps.
These are just some of the elements that I think would evolve with the lunch of Android Instant Apps. While the technology is in very early stage, the possibilities are incredibly encouraging.