Google

Google Play 'try it now' button lets users test-drive an Android app without installing it

Among multiple new changes in the Google Play app store, the 'try it now' button gives Android users quick access to key features of an app, presenting a unique situation to developers.

Android users can take Instant Apps for test drives using the new "try it now" button, Google announced in a Thursday blog post.

Through the button, users can access key features of an app without actually downloading it, blending the experience of native apps and the mobile web. Participating apps have a try it now button next to the install button in Google Play.

The new button is designed to promote Instant Apps, which piloted in January to select developers and generally in May. Currently, only eight apps are available as Instant Apps, including the BuzzFeed and NYTimes Crosswords apps.

SEE: Mobile app development policy (Tech Pro Research)

For developers and businesses, allowing potential users to test an app could lead to an increase in app subscriptions and use, especially for paid apps. Like a sample in a grocery store, a small taste could lead to full buy-in, even for weary customers concerned about a price tag.

For further promotion, the Instant Apps feature gives developers an easy way to share an Android app via link that can be shared through text messages and social media.

In the same announcement, Google shared multiple subscription-focused changes, including smaller free trial options, enforcement of one free trial, and notifications if a user cancels their subscription. Google will also drop the transaction fee for hosting an app from 30% to 15% if a user continues their subscription for over 12 months, beginning Jan. 1, 2018.

The changes signal a shift from one-time-payment apps to subscription apps, with most of the changes aimed at making it easier to operate and promote subscription apps in Google Play.

With the try it now button providing a clearer path to the test drive feature, developers may be more interested in designing mini apps or features for the program. But it presents a few challenges: How do you boil down an app while making it useful? What features should be available in the Instant App, and what should stay in the full, potentially paid, version?

Business leaders can try out apps without worrying about getting the security clearance to formally install it, instead focusing on how an app could help them be more productive or efficient. It'll also lead to fewer forgotten, unused apps cluttering a phone, leading to a cleaner home screen, more storage space, and less time performing mass app deletions. Depending on how many paid subscription apps a user no longer uses but hasn't unsubscribed from, it could also help save money.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Google Play's new "try it now" button lets Android users test key features of select apps without installing the app. The button is available next to the install button of Instant Apps, Google's mix of native apps and mobile web.
  2. The feature is designed to increase app subscriptions, giving developers and businesses a new way to convince users that their app is worth paying for.
  3. Google announced multiple smaller changes to make it easier put a subscription-based app in the Play store, including optional notifications when a user unsubscribes and shorter free trial options.

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Image: iStockphoto/samxmeg

About Olivia Krauth

Olivia Krauth is a Multiplatform Reporter at TechRepublic.

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