(1.5 minute read)
Last year at its I/O developer conference, Google introduced Android Instant Apps, which are native web apps that are light, high-performing, and don’t require installation to be enjoyed. The goal is to make the mobile app experience as seamless and convenient as possible, removing as many points of friction as possible. “They appear, you use them, and never think about them again,” Dave Burke, the Google VP of Engineering for Android said.
Now, about a year later, Google has announced that the first few Android Instant Apps are ready for limited testing. So far, Android Instant Apps are only open to Buzzfeed, Viki, Wish, Periscope, and a few other publishers.
But Google said eager app developers can already start taking important steps to get their app ready for Instant Apps development, since the full SDK will be available in a few months. Here’s what you can do to get started.
1. Choose an easy task for your app
First, you need to decide what the function of your Instant App will be. It should be a quick, easy task like watching a video or making a purchase. Remember that Instant Apps are meant to complement your current app, not replace it -- much like an add-on.
For example, you’re looking for parking and see that your city uses a local parking app. You hold your phone to the parking meter, which opens an Android Instant App. You pay through the app, and once you’re done, the app closes and vanishes.
Or, if a friend shares a link to a video in Buzzfeed’s app, the video would open in an Instant App. See? Easy.
2. Make your Instant App as small as possible
To get your Android Instant App to run fast, your app’s APK file has to be miniscule (under 4MB). Google recommends to:
- Identify and remove unused resources
- Minimize resource use from libraries
- Support only specific densities
3. URL-based navigation is a must
Android Instant Apps use the App Links feature to automatically handle web links. Otherwise, if in the previous scenario you clicked the Buzzfeed link your friend sent you, it might not open in the Instant App -- it’d ask you which browser to open it in, or might even open in the regular Buzzfeed app. (And that could take two whole seconds to load.) Google outlines how to handle and implement App Links here.