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Android Instant Apps wants to clear your phone of useless apps

Every company has an app. Want to buy a camera? Buy one through B&H’s app. Want to refill your parking meter? Download the app and make sure your car doesn’t get towed. Sure, some of these actions can be done via a mobile site, but they don’t always offer the best user experience.

That’s why Android will soon be able to open apps — without needing to install them at all. Most people typically don’t want to install an app for a one-time scenario, like when you visit a museum or want to pay for parking.

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Thanks to Android Instant Apps, unveiled at Google I/O, Google Play will download only the parts of the app that are needed. This way, rather than having to download and keep the B&H retail app installed on your device, you’ll be able to access it via a link any time you browse through or decide to purchase a camera.

“As a developer, you won’t need to build a new, separate app,” according to the Android blog post. “It’s the same Android APIs, the same project, the same source code. You’ll simply update your existing Android app to take advantage of Instant Apps functionality. In fact, it can take less than a day to get up and running for some developers, though the effort involved will vary depending on how your app is structured.”

If you do want to keep the app, you’ll be able to download it via a button in the Instant App. Developers will have to upgrade their existing apps to implement Android Instant App’s features — but it can only be a boon for both developers and consumers.

Developers get free advertising for their apps, which people may have never known existed. And users will be able to gain a fast, well-designed experience specific to mobile.

You also won’t have to re-enter your credit card information to make payments in Android Instant Apps, unlike how you would have to if you installed the app outright.

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For people who can’t have too many power-hungry apps due to using an older device, this is also a solid benefit since it’s one less app to have installed. Google demoed the integration through a device running Android KitKat.

Android Instant Apps works through Google Play, so it will only work on devices that have Google Play Services enable — that rules out devices in China and Amazon’s Android tablets. The company says it’s working with a small set of developers at the moment, but it will open up for everyone to integrate sometime this year.