Android Instant Apps: What You Need to Know
At Google IO 2016 Ellie Powers, the Product Manager of Google Play, spoke of Instant Apps, a new experience that would allow, “for users to access a wider range of apps, and for devs to reach more people” by allowing users to follow links and engage with a brand’s app, all without installation. While there is not a lot of information about the mechanics of Instant Apps, here’s what we think you need to know now.
How does this work for the user?
During the keynote, Powers showed a few examples of Instant Apps. In the first example a user receives a Buzzfeed video link which bypasses a player in Chrome for the video player in the Buzzfeed app. In another example, users could use NFC on app-enabled parking meters to fire up the payment portal in the app. In both examples, the ability to install the application after use was highlighted. With the dawn of Instant Apps, several user benefits immediately come to mind including getting the added functionality of an app, reducing storage usage, and trying the app before committing to a full download.
How does this benefit the brand?
Instant Apps could also help brands significantly engage with their users in several ways:
Providing a Consistent, On-Brand Experience
In addition to increased functionality over web apps, mobile apps can offer users a unified brand experience. This is particularly true of apps that have beautiful UI or user-friendly checkout flows. Using Instant Apps to let users experience those elements could help increase brand equity and increase conversion rates.
Capitalizing on Deep Linking and App Indexing
With the introduction of Allo and Google Assistant, Google has increased its ability to leverage Deep Linking and App Indexing. For properly indexed apps, brands could find their offerings as a frequent suggestion through Google Assistant. Users engage immediately with the brand’s best native experience as they bypass the Play Store and jump directly into the app.
A particularly interesting aspect of Instant Apps is how the functionality will work with devices running older versions of Android as far back as Kitkat. With nearly ⅓ of Android devices globally running Kitkat, this could allow brands to offer amazing experiences without hassling the user to upgrade their devices.
Instant Apps presents an opportunity for re-engagement
A May 2015 study by Google noted that 34% of app abandonment occurs due to loss of interest. 29% of abandonment occurs because users, “no longer need [the app].” With that in mind, Fuzz is excited about the strategic re-engagement opportunities the feature can provide, particularly in e-commerce.
App abandonment is a significant challenge for e-commerce apps, where 4 out of 10 users will download an app to complete a purchase, only for 2 of those 4 to delete the app after the transaction is complete. For those who uninstalled, standard re-engagement levers like push marketing are ultimately lost.
With Instant Apps, previous users who have uninstalled the app can be brought via mobile web back to the app environment. The brand can then reintroduce the app or reveal new features to incite a re-download. In addition, because the user is introduced back to the app at the time of purchase and with little effort on their part, re-engagement happens in a more natural, less invasive manner.
E-commerce apps that would benefit particularly in this case would be those that have beautifully designed checkout flows that outdo the standard mobile web experience.
Preparing for Instant Apps modularity
Not much is currently known as to how this feature will be implemented however based on the keynote and our research, the key factor to ensuring Instant App success seems to be the modularity of feature sets. As seen in the Keynote, Powers highlighted a use case of purchasing equipment through the B&H app, where a link sent the user directly to the app’s lauded checkout flow. Being able to separate the functionality of the app into discrete modules allows Android to download only what it needs to accomplish one particular task.
Brands interested in Instant Apps should work with their development teams to better understand both the user flows and the dependencies found among different features in the app. Doing so will help estimate the level of effort it will take to optimize or refactor an app’s current code base for leveraging the new functionality.
The move by Google for Android to offer this feature continues to blur the line between web and app, but for the moment, also prioritizes app development as the driving force for the experience. As Google CEO Sundar Pichai noted at the event, 60% of search queries are from mobile. To capitalize on this growing trend, bringing users into an app’s unique and encompassing experience seems to be both sound strategy and a future imperative for brands.