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“Streaming Apps” to “Instant Apps,” Why the Change?

  • Google has introduced the new technology “Instant Apps”.
  • It is a variation of the previous “Streaming Apps”.

Google has brought a new feature to the Play Store in celebration of the Annual Game Developers Conference last week. A few games on Android will now allow users to access them before officially downloading them. This “Try Now” feature will be noticeable in the Play Store, otherwise known as the “Google Play Instant” feature. Nonetheless, this is not a new thing in technology. It is highly similar to the “Instant Apps” feature that has been available within applications for some time now. Google is just now debuting it for gaming applications under a different name.

This is done in order to increase accessibility for users. Google believes that app installations may be considered as a substantial step that some users do not want to take in order to try these applications for the first time. Hence, by promoting this feature, they hope to get more people to venture out in trying more applications.

This is not a sudden plan. In fact, Google has been testing their “Instant Apps” program for a while now – under different names. Three years ago, they have implemented a similar program under the name “Streaming Apps”. That was the first of its line. “Streaming Apps”, like its name, would stream live video feeds to the user. In this way, the Android application will be processed on Google’s servers.

Two years ago, “Streaming Apps” was eliminated, followed by the substitution of “Instant Apps” technology that is being used today. Unlike “Streaming Apps”, the “Instant Apps” actually streams the application code to your smartphones and processes it in an ephemeral sandbox. With this approach, the developers are required to modularize applications. Through the Android SDK, the application is split up into segments containing 10 megabytes. These little segments are then streamed to the user. In this way, users are only allowed access to a small range of features based on the portion streamed. Nonetheless, the main purpose of “Instant Apps” is so that users can initialize the application instantaneously. Consequently, users who are attempting to use a wider range of feature offered in the application will potentially install the full version of the application.

It seems that there are only about six gaming application that are equipped with the “Instant Apps” technology at the moment. This is because it is not accessible by all developers now. Few of the six includes Clash Royale, Words with Friends and Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire. Through Clash Royale’s Instant Apps feature, users can have a go at the basic two-game tutorial. With that, users can get the gist of things and decide if they want to install it or otherwise.

Of course, these are some of the more prominent games, which is likely why it works or these apps. Depending on the structure of the application, some works better than others. For instance, a trivial application such as Solitaire is accessible in the trial mode in its entirety.

On the other hand, Final Fantasy, a “bigger” application has very limited features. Currently, in the instant apps, the trial version only allows users to battle against one monster in a blank hallway. As such, users are not able to fully experience and comprehend the city-building game.

On top of that, Google has begun to introduce further plans with regards to this. If a player sends out an invitation or challenge to their contacts, the rookie player gets to play the game on a trial basis. This invitation link could easily be posted through instant messages and played immediately without the troublesome process of installation. Take Words with Friends for instance. Anyone can easily begin a round with the existing player without having to download the game.

“Instant Apps” technology is done through alterations on the Java-based Android SDK. With the available version for gaming applications, Google is managing variations to the NDK and other game engines like Unity.

The game version of “Instant Apps” is not currently accessible by most developers. A registration page is available for potential developers to put their names down as Google has proclaimed that the feature will be more accessible within months.

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