What if I said you could test-run Android apps without actually installing them? If you happen to be an Android user (using Lollipop or newer), this is actually a reality.
That's what Android Instant Apps are—apps that allow you to "try before you install." This is a great way to keep you from installing apps you use once, don't like, and forget to uninstall. Now, before you get too excited, not every app in the Google Play Store has an instant app version available. That's the big caveat to this feature, you won't find a lot of apps supporting the Instant system at the moment.
Some apps that initially came out with support have pulled out (such as the Wish shopping tool and the NYTimes Crossword Puzzle). In fact, it's pretty random to find an app that includes Instant App support. My guess is that the feature isn't publicized well and that Google has seemed to retarget this effort toward game designers. A few games have been added to the mix, but growth is still slow.
See: Hiring kit: Android developer (Tech Pro Research)
Even so, you might want to try Instant Apps. To do so, you have to first enable it. How? Let me show you. Open up the Settings app and go to Google and then to Instant Apps. In this new screen, tap to enable the account you want associated with the feature. You will then be prompted to tap YES, I'M IN to enable the feature. Once you've done this, open up the Google Play Store. If you come across an app that includes an Instant version, you'll see a TRY NOW button. Tap that button, and the app will immediately launch.
Try the app out. If you like it, install it. If you don't like it, close out the window, and it'll be as if the app never appeared on your phone.
That's all there is to Android Instant Apps. Hopefully, more developers will join the project, so users can get a taste of what an app will do, before it takes up precious mobile device space. This would be a great way for users to test drive non-free apps. Hint. Hint.
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.