(* This post is inspired by me finally playing with Android Instant Apps.)
Whoever knows me, knows I'm a big Apple fan, from the times it wasn't popular to be one.
You also know I carry two phones for the past 5 years - a late model iPhone (currently iPhone 6S), and a late model Android (currently Samsung S8 - one of the most amazing phones e-v-e-r, but that may be a topic for a different blog post).
You also know I'm a big mobile fan - whether mobile-web or mobile-apps - and specifically a great believer in mobile native apps.
But mobile-native-apps have two very (very!) big problems:
Discoverability - how will users find your app?
The "Installation Barrier" - how will you "convince" them to install your app?
Both Apple and Google have been trying to solve this problem, and there's even a branch of marketing called ASO (like SEO - Search Engine Optimization) - App Store Optimization, to help your app be place higher and be found in the App Stores, and then hopefully installed...
But still, no solution. Until now?
But I guess Google had more to lose - since Google wants everything to start within their search engine , and preferably stay in the browser...
So last year (Google I/o 2016) they announced Android Instant Apps - the technology that would allow an app developer to structure and build their native app (well, their Android native app) in a way that will allow it to be found, linked to, and effectively (partially) run within the browser (on Android devices).
They showed a demo of a search for a Sony a6000 camera, and the web browser result linking to B&H Photo product - and the user completes the whole buying experience - including checkout - is completed in-the-browser - with a true-native-experience.
It's a great promise. It's a possible solution (at least in the very-dominant Android world) for the Top 2 Blockers of Mobile Apps.
To quote the link below:
"Users can get to your flagship Android experience from any URL—including search, social media, messaging, and other deep links—without needing to install your app first"
* If your Android device supports Instant Apps, simply click this link for the NY Times daily mini-puzzle.
Over the past year they rolled it out, and finally - we can try it too... See below for instructions.
You need an updated Android device (Android 6.x and better) - I tested on Samsung S8.
To enable the feature:
Open your phone's Settings > Google > Instant Apps
==> enable the feature/turn it on (you'll need to Accept the terms & conditions).
To see some test cases:
There are currently a number of featured 3rd-party instant-apps.
(The actual use-cases are still not dramatic - but the potential is great...)
I tested and "confirmed" the NY Times mini-puzzle and Vimeo...
** A way to confirm the experience was/is indeed Instant Apps (and not web - sometimes its hard to tell - is to go back to where you enabled the feature) - and any instant apps ran will be listed there.
(for more on how the technology works, see the video below - but it's not required.)