What happened to me a few days ago wouldn’t have occurred if Google Instant Apps was already functional. I decided to update my BBM, the once popular messaging app from Blackberry that lost its shine to apps like WhatsApp.
You might wonder why I wanted to update an app I hardly ever used. I have heard a lot about the BBM Channels that seem to be giving BBM a new lease of life. So I decided to update the app to get the new feature. Updating it was also to get it up to date. After all, I haven’t used it in a while.
However, my smartphone kept telling me I did not have enough space to install the updated app. No problem. I had a bunch of videos and apps I did not need. They were promptly deleted. But my time was wasted looking for apps and files to delete to free up space for the updated BBM.
I couldn’t help but think about why Alphabet Inc was wasting my time rolling out Google Instant Apps.
Is Google Instant Apps worth all hype?
If Google Instant Apps is so much noise without substance, that would be one heck of a noise.
Google Instant Apps was announced last year at Google’s flagship developer’s event known as Google I/O. In the announcement, Google promised users that Instant Apps would define part of the next Android operating system, the Nougat.
Well, the Nougat debuted last year without Instant Apps. It was a let down for so many people. Here is why.
With Google instant apps, Android users would be able to enjoy the full features of an app without actually downloading the app. It is immediately clear that a feature like that would solve a few problems.
For instance, I wouldn’t have had to bother about having enough storage space on my device to install the BBM update or even bother to delete files to free up memory.
Another problem effectively solved by Instant Apps is in the area of purchases. One wouldn’t have to buy an app to test it. According to Google, with Instant Apps, one can try out a paid app for free as developers can give them a piece of the app for free to test on their smartphones. If they like it, they can then buy the whole app.
The second best thing about Instant Apps is that you don’t have to buy the latest Android phone with the Nougat OS to enjoy it. It can work on even older versions of Android since the framework is based on Google Play Services.
related: Google Moonshot Projects
The belated good news
According to details first released here, Google Instant Apps would soon be rolled out to the public for all Android devices. The report also detailed other features to be rolled out.
However, the other features like the ability to choose which Google account to use for a particular app, are restricted to only Nougat phones. These Nougat features are not for millions of Android users who are yet to even upgrade to Android Marshmallow.
No limits to apps on smartphones
The first time Google Instant Apps was announced last year, the immediate thought of most Android users was, ‘Unlimited apps.’
Right now the number of apps you have on your Android smartphone is severely restricted by the size of your RAM and storage space. Too many apps can clog up your system making it slow and prone to freezing during operations.
When in full swing, Google Instant Apps would be hosted in the clouds. Giving you seamless usage without bothering about lagging on your smartphone. The problem I can see now is that without a good Internet connection or network, running Google Instant Apps would be a problem as you need Internet data to run the apps effectively.
And with the cost of data not too friendly to the poor, there would be a large segment of the population who would have to forgo this great feature.
Good thing though, Instant Apps will not eliminate how we download, install and use apps currently. The functionality can be switched off if it is not needed for one reason or the other
Cloud services, home to Instant Apps
The whole idea of Google instant apps is directly linked to cloud services where files are stored and operated from the clouds.
Nothing is physically present in your device.
Google is making a big push towards cloud services. For instance, the popular Google Docs is hosted in the clouds. Chromebook, Google’s laptop, has most of its services linked to Google Drive.
Everything important thing done on the laptop is linked to the clouds. So an Internet connection is necessary to do any work with Chromebook. It is therefore, not surprising that the next phase of the evolution of apps is directly linked to cloud operations.
How did Apple miss this?
Unfortunately, the latest iPhone does not have an equivalent to Instant Apps. And from rumors, even this year’s iPhone is not going to have a similar feature to Instant Apps.
The question now is, after the bland iPhone 7 that offered almost nothing new when compared to iPhone 6, is Apple in danger of falling behind in terms of new innovations for their users?
Because, this is one feature that knowledgeable iPhone users would wish they had on their smartphones. I mean, who wouldn’t want a feature that would leave your phone performing like new for a long time.
Apple should be wary of really falling far behind Android. For now, though, the iOS still trumps Android in giving iOS users a very secure smartphone that is optimized to run efficiently.
WebAssembly and Google instant apps
It won’t be surprising to find out that Google Instant Apps was inspired by WebAssembly. WebAssembly is an Internet software similar to instant apps. You can easily operate programs without having to download them on your devices with WebAssembly.
Only Mozilla had introduced the software in the latest update of their browser, Firefox. I am yet to try it though. So I can’t give full judgment on how effective it is.
But with programs like WebAssembly and Instant Apps, users would be in for the ride of a lifetime as far as operating apps on their devices are concerned