Reducing install friction of mobile apps is the first and the most important problem businesses face today. In 2018, Google Play Store and Apple App Store had close to 5 billion apps. To get noticed, most businesses follow up their mobile app launches with an extensive and costly marketing campaign.
Targeted advertisements and paid campaigns help in faster user acquisitions, but usually do not have a very high conversion rate. Only a small number of users actually download and use your app right away after visiting the app page on the app stores. Unless your app is unique and doesn’t have any competition, driving users to install a new app is tough.
Prospective users of your mobile app might be reluctant to download your app for various reasons.
- They might not trust a new app immediately due to lack of reviews and downloads
- Lack of patience or time to wait for the download and installation to complete
- They might not have enough space or bandwidth on their phones
- The download size of your app is large
- They are only interested in your app for a specific content, for a specific time or for a specific location
What are Instant Apps?
Instant Apps provide a way to build native Android apps and distribute them on the Google Play Store which your users can try out without actually installing them. These apps can be launched through a URL that can be shared through any channel. You can think of an Instant App as a stripped down version of your native Android app. The user experience and performance is the same as the actual Android application when installed on a user’s device.
Instant Apps are built by modularising components of your app into a smaller installable apps which can be delivered to the end user instantly. The download size of these modules is usually very small (< 4MB). Installation of such apps are not required and no extra storage space is required to run an Instant app.
Instant Apps can be shared as a url, just like a web page url. Such urls can be shared through social media posts, marketing emails, campaigns or through instant messaging. The url points to a specific module of your app.
When a user taps on the link, that module is downloaded and installed temporarily on the user’s device within a few seconds. Once the user is done and closes the app, it disappears from the user’s phone.
How will it resolve my issues
By using Instant Apps, you can drastically reduce the wait times of your users. The user experience for a first time user is as good as having your app pre-installed on your phone. Instant Apps gives your users a preview of what you promise to deliver. If the user is impressed, she could be interested in actually downloading and installing your app to discover even more content that you might have to offer. This leads to increased user acquisitions, increased user engagement and possibly increased sales.
Booking a ticket for a movie could be a good example here. The user doesn’t have to install the app of the multiplex. She can directly view a specific movie details and book tickets for the same through an Instant app module.
For mobile games, the download sizes of a complete game can run into GBs. Instead, you could let the users play the first few levels through an Instant App module without actually forcing the user to download all the assets and resources for the game.
Without Instant Apps, a user would never get a chance to experience your app or game unless he installs it.
- 20% of all the installations for Naukri.com’s mobile app are through Instant Apps.
- Ultimate guitar have improved their install rates by 8% by adding Instant Apps support.
- Rakuten Viki, through the Instant App feature, increased the watch time by 5X. Vimeo has increased their users’ session durations by 130%.
Instant App vs PWA
Progressive Web Apps (PWA) are also a great option and it addresses similar problems as Android Instant Apps . Your users do not have to install the application on their phone. You do not need to push updates to the app to the play stores. You could also have a PWA as a showcase, a preview of your application’s features, and then redirect them to download the native apps after they are convinced. PWAs are usually a good choice for simple apps.
However, they do not give you the speed and power of native apps. This is where Android Instant Apps stand out as a better option where performance is the key for your mobile app success.
Limitations of Instant Apps
Instant Apps have a few limitations.
- Do not support background processes
- Do not support push notifications (Push notification support is currently in beta)
- Cannot access external storage
- Has to be a free app on the Play Store
- Maximum size of an Instant App module is 4MB (10MB limit support is currently in beta)
However, these are merely technical limitations. The primary objective of building an Instant App should be to drive more installs, thus, these limitations are merely technical.
Instant Apps on Android was launched in May 2017 and is open to all app and game developers. Google is also working continuously to add new features to Instant Apps.
If you are starting a new project, it’s relatively easy to design your app to support this feature from your very first release.
However, existing apps can also be re-designed progressively. According to Google, it typically takes 4-5 weeks to migrate your existing app to provide Instant App support. You do not need to re-design your apps from scratch to make them Instant Apps. You can start with the most used modules of your existing apps.
Instant Apps for Android gives you a new approach for distributing your apps. They provide a better and easier option to experience your app or content. Not only that, it also gives you a new way of marketing and advertising your content to users who would not like to install your app yet. They could help in improving your acquisitions, conversions and user engagements by removing the install friction, possibly leading to increased sales by making your app accessible via a link.