Google today announced it has begun a limited test of Android Instant Apps. The company says Android users can try “a few” Instant Apps, including from BuzzFeed, Wish, Periscope, and Viki, in a limited test. The goal is to collect user feedback and iterate on how Instant Apps work before expanding the experience to more apps and more users.
Google unveiled Android Instant Apps at its I/O 2016 developer conference in May. Think of Instant Apps as a subset of an existing app that launches immediately, no installation required. Tapping a URL can open an Instant App even if the user doesn’t have the full Android app installed, and closing an Instant App means it is essentially gone (it lives on in your cache for a few hours in case you want to open another such link again, but there’s no app on your home screen).
At the time, Google presented use cases related to visiting a place infrequently or even just once: when you want to pay for parking, when you’re visiting a museum, or when you’re spending the day at an amusement park. Instead of visiting a mobile site or downloading a full-blown app, an Instant App would be the solution.
Back in May, Google said it had “about a half dozen” partners trying Instant Apps: Buzzfeed, B&H Photo Video, Medium, Hotel Tonight, Zumper, and Disney. Today, the company said it has been working with “a small number of developers” to refine the user and developer experiences, but interestingly only one name from last year’s list (BuzzFeed) is on the launch list. Google also added today that there is interest “from thousands of developers” in these types of apps.
Android users were supposed to start seeing Instant Apps by the end of 2016. Google is thus less than a month late.
Google plans to have the full Android Instant Apps SDK available “in the coming months.” We have contacted the company for more information and will update you if we hear back.