Google's Instant App, mobile web improvements give tech decision-makers a lot to ponder

With Google's Android Instant Apps opening to a broad group of developers, CXOs will need to kick the tires and see if it makes sense to support their current apps. Here's a look at the big questions.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Google is opening its Instant App platform to all developers and embedding it into Android O --the latest version of the mobile operating systems. With the move, Google is likely to give business tech decision-makers a bit more to think about.

At Google I/O, executives outlined how developers can use Instant Apps to create mini applications that will improve interaction without downloading an app. Android O will have Instant Apps that integrate with the launcher and provide an experience that rhymes more with a regular app.

If you combine Instant Apps with Google's move to push progressive web apps, or PWAs, the mobile web will look more like a native app. Google is providing developer tools, a test service and Polymer 2.0, a code repository, to make PWAs more mainstream.

Add it up and there's enough from Google I/O to make a tech decision-maker ponder whether it makes sense to maintain and Android app. For sure, in-app purchases will require a full app experience, but for many an Instant App on an improved mobile web experience may be more than enough. After all, enterprises everywhere wrestle with supporting apps as well as going through an approval process controlled by Google and Apple.

Alex Miller, senior vice president of digital commerce at QVC, said that apps are a big business for his company and boost engagement. In other words, QVC, which streams live video and purchases via its app, is likely to ponder Instant Apps, but not much more. That said, a better mobile web experience gives QVC more control over its own destiny. "There are not a lot of big app businesses out there so those companies will look at incremental support," said Miller.

Given the Google moves, the questions to ask boil down like this:

  • Is an Instant App good enough for my company?
  • What does an app give me that I can't accomplish with PWA?
  • How will PWAs affect my approach on Apple and iOS apps?
  • How much will I save on support if I go full mobile web on Android?
  • Do I need an app at all for what my company wants to accomplish?
  • What's the engagement on an app vs. mobile Web?

In the end, enterprises are going to be thinking more mobile web on Android and more app on Apple's iOS. That reality may be good enough considering you'll cut support and development in half.

Photos: Android through the ages

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