Back at Google I/O in May, Google announced something quite unique: instant apps. Instant apps give developers a way to split their Android apps into pieces so that, when needed, only the important and needed pieces of an app can be served up without downloading and installing the app itself.
When it was announced, I thought it was a really cool feature, but I couldn’t think of any actual use for it. The only example I’ve seen used was someone at a parking meter needing to pay via an app and not having to download the app to accomplish the payment.
Like I said, neat but not really disruptive.
Enter Google Assistant
You can read all about Google’s Assistant and the aspirations surrounding it here. Google seems intent on making Assistant accessible everywhere and usable for everything. And, to that end, I think it is where instant apps could become a disruptive, game-changing innovation.
At the #madebygoogle event, as Assistant was being demoed, one of the examples was calling an Uber. While they were highlighting the use-case of leveraging an app with some back-and-forth interactions, I think something even more important was being alluded to.
At the 1:47:50 mark on the video below, you can hear an allusion to a scenario where Assistant can fetch the needed experience without need for downloading an app. Sounds a lot like instant apps to me.
And this scenario sounds exactly like what instant apps were built for. Say I need to buy tickets, call an Uber, or book a reservation at a restaurant. If Assistant is to do any of those things without having to first stop and download the corresponding app, instant apps is the simplest and most straight-forward way. As Assistant becomes a more prevalent technology, devs will have more reason to compartmentalize their apps as instant apps for use with Assistant in this way.
As more apps work as instant apps, Assistant will have more and more ability to do things immediately for users as the requests roll in. It appears that instant apps have found their home and reason for being a feature worthy of a spot at the Google I/O keynote this year. The resulting experience, in time, could be a truly disruptive addition to the mobile computing experience for all users.