Today at the I/O developer conference, Google has announced an innovative way for users to try out applications without having to install them.
Google is calling this new initiative Android Instant Apps. How does it work? When a developer updates their application to support Android Instant Apps, simply tapping on a URL will give users access to a full-fledged Android app without the need to install it first. When the user clicks on the URL, the Play Store will be able to search for that application and download only the code necessary to run the app. The user will then be given a full app “experience” and can download the full version to their devices if they so choose.
The key behind Android Instant Apps is that devs won’t have to go back and create a separate version of their app to make this work. All that’s required is a simple update to their current application — about a day’s worth of work in all, says Ficus Kirkpatrick, Engineering Director for Instant Apps.
Google says Android Instant Apps will work with devices running Jelly Bean and later.
One other awesome thing about Android Instant Apps is that it not only works with a URL, but also NFC. Picture this: you’re standing at one of those new-fangled internet-connected parking meters that requires a certain smartphone app. Instead of going to the Play Store, downloading the app and using it for only a short period of time before deleting it, you can just use NFC to download it straight from the parking meter. In the demo shown on the I/O stage, Kirkpatrick tapped his phone on the NFC-equipped parking meter, started up the temporary version of the app, and used it to pay his parking toll. Easy!
Google says this new feature will begin rolling out to users later this year.