What Are Google Instant Apps?

google instant apps

Google instant apps are the space-saving solution to our ever-growing app lifestyle. It’s not for everyone; as the name suggests,  this application is only suitable for Android users.

The quick answer is: Google instant apps let you use a small section of a larger app. There’s no download or sign-in, you just click a link. Get the function of an app, or a free trial, without the hassle.

Let’s look into the whys, whens, pros, and cons, so you can decide if Google instant apps would work for your business. If they would, we know a team that builds the best in the business.

Why Use Google Instant Apps?

Be honest. How many apps do you have on your phone right now? The average person has more apps on their phone than they already use. And how many didn’t you download because of the hassle? That’s where instant apps shine.

Both eCommerce and game development get excellent results from google instant apps. Need to pay for parking on vacation? Want to shop for a car? Wondering if that new mobile game is worth your time?

You might not click “Install” on an app for these once-in-a-while apps because:

  • You don’t want to take up space on your phone.
  • Signing up for things takes time and energy.

How many more apps would you interact with if you didn’t need to download or sign up? As a business, you want to make engaging with your brand as easy as possible. If you could just show your end user how awesome your product is, they’d be hooked. Well, it’s as easy as a link.

What are They, Technically?

Google instant apps run like they’re local but they’re actually a native container with device hardware access. From a user perspective, they’re a lot like a browser interaction: click on a link or scan a QR code, use the app, and the data is cached after the interaction.

From a programming perspective, your app needs to be modular. Instant apps can only be 4MB and the link brings the user to a specific module. If your apps aren’t already built this way, restructuring can take a significant amount of time.

Google Instant Apps List of Requirements & Features


-Apps must be published on the Google Play Store.
-Devices need Jellybean OS or higher.
-Android Lollipop (API 21) or newer.


-Android Studio 3.3 beta forward has Cocos and Unity plugins.
-Google Play Instant is open to all app devs.

Pros of Google Instant Apps

  • Track Record: These apps have been around since 2017 and they aren’t going away because they work.
  • Shareability: Instant apps can be linked with a QR code, a button on your website, or a link in an email.
  • Discoverability: Instant apps can rank higher on Google Play suggested lists due to more interaction.
  • More Engagement: Because they don’t have to install (commit) or sign up (spend time), more people will use your instant app.
  • More Upsells: Once someone tries that teaser of your app, they’re much more likely to download and use the whole thing (as long as it provides a benefit to them, of course).
  • Easy to Create: For someone who already makes apps, creating a Google instant app is virtually the same process. 

What Should You Keep in Mind When Choosing Google Instant Apps

  • Security: Because instant apps are smaller sets of modular code accessed through a link, there are more areas open for cyberattack or phishing.
  • Features: Instant apps can’t access external storage or identifiers (IMEI) or MAC addresses.
  • Converting a General App to an Instant App: If you didn’t build the app as modular, you’ll need someone to chop it up in the right places. This can be time-consuming and frustrating.

How to Turn on Google Play Services for Instant Apps

To upgrade available links to use instant apps instead of opening them as a browser.

On Your Phone

-Go to Settings on your Android device.
-Select Google.
-Settings for Google Apps.
-Google Play Instant.
-Toggle on Upgrade web links.


In the Google Play Store

-Click your profile picture in the top right corner.
-Google Play Instant.
-Toggle on Upgrade web links.

Google instant apps are a no-brainer if:

  1. You have finite storage on your device
  2. Your app is situational or could benefit from an easy-access teaser. 

The security risks can be mitigated and, if you’re just starting your app, you won’t have to restructure it later. If you’re ready to jump in or you have more questions, say hi to us at WillDom or on our LinkedIn. We know Google instant apps like the back of our hands. And if instant isn’t the way forward for you, we’ve got a team for every project.

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