Android Instant Apps allows Android apps to run instantly, without requiring installation. Users will simply tap on a URL.

Developers will need to ensure their apps are ‘modularized’ and then will be able to offer this service to users on Jelly Bean OS or later.

Many have hailed this announcement from Google’s recent I/O event as the most exciting. So what are the implications?

A game changer for NFC?

The whole debate around customer experience with iBeacons comes down to the app. Marketers can only target those with their app installed and the challenge is providing genuinely useful functionality that also happens to be interruptive.

So far, iBeacons haven’t been a success. But in the world of Android, neither has NFC.

Yes, NFC has different use cases, downloading an app or launching a web page with customer intent (they need to tap). But problems still exist – the user has to trust the web experience will be seamless.

Implementations of NFC thus far haven’t always been successful.

But one of the demonstrations of Instant Apps from Google is the parking meter shown below. The experience is started by NFC, which launches the Instant App, and allows a customer to pay for parking within a slick ‘native’ environment.

The implications for NFC could be dramatic, providing implementation is as smart as this example.

nfc launch app  

A gamechanger for payment?

One of the beauties of launching an Instant App is the ability for customers to pay via Android Pay.

This is part of what makes the example above (the parking meter) even more compelling. Payment details are already stored and checkout occurs quickly.

Allowing Android users to pay within apps they have never installed opens up a world of services. Think of the convenience in mobile commerce.

A gamechanger for app discovery?

No navigating the app store. No waiting for download then cancelling.

Metrics such as the percentage of downloaders still using the app after a set time period should improve because the user can preview the app and have more of an idea of whether they like it or not.

Most importantly though, the GIF below shows what a boon this will be to app discovery. The users will potentially do the job for you, sharing an Instant App link with friends via a social network or messaging app.

And, of course, the app creator can also promote in this way, sharing the link through email marketing, brand messaging, SMS etc.

messaging android app 

A gamechanger for UX? 

Apps are more immersive, use more smartphone functionality and are often more beautiful. The problem is that we can’t be bothered with them.

According to Ofcom’s recent media usage study, 42% never download new apps (see below).

Now that we might be bothered, using Instant Apps to access modular functionality, will the days of poor mobile experiences be forgotten.

And what will Tim Berners Lee think? Is this open web or not?

ofcom stats

A gamechanger for customer service?

I’m not entirely sure about this, but I needed a fifth point.

The messaging GIF above, what if that was an interaction with a brand (e.g. through Allo or Facebook Messenger)? The brand could use Instant App links to better serve customers.

For instance, a bank could offer a link to a loan calculator in-app. I can’t think of too many examples of this, but it does seem like a possible improvement to cross-channel service, above and beyond deep linking.