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At its I/O 2017 developer conference today, Google launched the Android Instant Apps SDK. Now all developers can write Android Instant Apps, as opposed to just a handful of partners.
Google Play product manager Ellie Powers made the announcement onstage today. She also shared that the company’s partners have launched 50 instant apps so far and added that some app makers have seen double digit increases in purchases, leads generated, and videos watches.
Google unveiled Android Instant Apps at its I/O 2016 developer conference in May. The company then started letting Android users test a select few of these apps in January 2017.
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). Potential use cases could be 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 could get the job done.
Until now Google has been working with “a small number of developers” to refine the user and developer experiences, though it noted earlier this year that there is interest “from thousands of developers” in these types of apps. Also in January, the company promised the full Android Instant Apps SDK would be available “in the coming months,” so lining up the launch today with its developers conference makes perfect sense. To build Android Instant Apps, you’ll need to get the new Android Studio 3.0 Canary 1 preview.