We already knew that Google was testing technology that lets it stream Android apps—or even specific features within apps—from the web. At the Google I/O keynote, the company just formally announced this feature, which it’s calling Android Instant Apps and plans to release later this year.
Its demo included an instant version of BuzzFeed, which was fine. But it also involved B&H Photo’s app—one that you might be unlikely to download from an app store even if you liked B&H, and therefore a good example of Instant Apps’ value. Google also showed an instant app for paying at a parking meter—one so quick that it wouldn’t slow you down much, even if you snagged it while standing outside your car.
It’s too early to assume that this technology will work as well in the real world as it does in demos, or that developers and consumers will embrace it. But it strikes me as something that could be a fundamental shift in the relationship between operating systems, applications, and services. I wonder if Apple is working on anything in the same ballpark?