android instant app demo

How to Start Building Google Play Android Instant Apps Tutorial

What are Android Instant Apps ?

Google has introduced Native Android apps without installation, what does this mean ? it means that you can run any android application from google play store on your Android device without installing it from google play store.

Like normal Android apps which you have to download from google play store, every Android Instant App has a URL like web applications and you can launch Instant Apps by clicking on that URL. whenever a URL is clicked which refers to Android Instant App, Google play services will download necessary code on user device. and that device runs the application.

How to use Android Instant App from Google Play Store

Lets take an example of Vimeo Android application.

Open Google Play Services on your Android device and go to settings. there is an option “Use apps without installation” enable it.

Now any application on google play store which supports Instant Apps feature will have a “TRY NOW” button along with install button.

If you click on “TRY NOW” application will be launched without installation. If you like the app and want to use all of its features you can install it later.

Lets take example of Vimeo.

TRY NOW Button
vimeo page on play store

After you hit “TRY NOW” button play store application will get necessary application code.

instant app android example
getting android instant app content from play services

User can go to settings and choose to Install application.

android instant apps play services
android instant app installation

It is actually lighter version of a real Android App.

Developers have to enable deep links so a user can tap on any link and can immediately enjoy real Android App without installation.

Android Instant Apps devices support

Android Instant app work from 5.0 (API level 21) through Android 8.0 (API level 26).

Instant Apps from developer perspective

Before you start building Android Instant Apps let me give you a brief introduction.

For example you have a Map Application. which allows users to find nearby places, share current location to other contacts via email.

Find nearby places –  is a feature

Share contacts via email – is a feature

if users want to find nearby places, android will only download code which handles this feature, it will launch an Activity which will be responsible to find nearby places. and when user is done with finding nearby place Android OS will dispose this code.

And users want to download compete version of the app they can do so. so keep in mind it will be the same one app before and after installation.

so for each feature there will be an activity which will be launched if that feature is requested by user.

Start Building First Android Instant App

  • You should have Android Studio 3.0 or later version.
  • Make sure Android Instants Apps SDK is installed in SDK manager.
  • Android device or emulator running 5.1 or later.

Step 1:

Create new project in Android Studio and select minimum API level 23.

Step 2:

In the Configure Activity dialog enter host name (your website URL) and in the URL box enter “/hello” and click finish.

The URL of your Main Activity will be “https://developine.com/hello”. If you open this URL from your Android device Main Activity will be launched.

Note: Android Instant apps only support https.

Project Structure of Android Instant App

We have create a new project in Android Studio which includes support for Instant apps.

Now lets understand project structure.

Now we have two new modules base module and feature module in addition to app module in our Instant App Android Studio project.

Currently we have only one feature in our Android Application so we have one feature module in our project. we can add more features in our application (will do this shortly).

Android Instant App uses two new plugins.

  1. com.android.instantapp
  2. com.android.feature

A feature module applies “com.android.feature” plugin.  you just write any feature module like a library module and the rest will be handled by tools.

Feature APK vs Base Feature APK

base feature apk android
feature and base apk files

As we already discussed every Android Instant app has base feature module and feature module.

An application can have multiple feature modules but one base feature is must (base feature module will have base code which is required for all other feature modules).

If your Android Instant app has only one feature than only one base feature module is enough, additional feature modules are not required.

Each feature module generates a corresponding feature APK which can be installed as instant app or can be launched through a URL.

Base feature module is always downloaded because it will have shared code, feature module code depends on base module.

Lets discuss and understand each module one by one.

App Module Structure in Android Instant Apps

This module is responsible to take all code (activities, fragments, drawables, resources) from all feature modules and build APK file.

If user choose to install Android Instant App this APK produced by App Module is installed on user device.

<manifest xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    package="com.developine.instantapp.app" />

Gradle Structure of App Module

This module uses ‘com.android.application’ plugin. And it includes all feature modules and base module.

apply plugin: 'com.android.application'
android {
    compileSdkVersion 26
    defaultConfig {
        applicationId "com.developine.instantapp"
        minSdkVersion 23
        targetSdkVersion 26
        versionCode 1
        versionName "1.0"
    }
    buildTypes {
       release {
           minifyEnabled false
           proguardFiles getDefaultProguardFile('proguard-android.txt'), 'proguard-rules.pro'
       }
    }
}
dependencies {
    implementation project(':feature')
    implementation project(':base')
}

Base Module Structure in Android Instant Apps

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<manifest xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    package="com.developine.instantapp">

    <application
        android:allowBackup="true"
        android:icon="@mipmap/ic_launcher"
        android:label="@string/app_name"
        android:roundIcon="@mipmap/ic_launcher_round"
        android:supportsRtl="true"
        android:theme="@style/AppTheme">
        <meta-data
            android:name="aia-compat-api-min-version"
            android:value="1" />
    </application>

</manifest>

Base module contains shared resources for all feature modules so all feature modules in application must depend on base module.

Gradle Structure of Base Module

apply plugin: 'com.android.feature'

android {
    compileSdkVersion 26
    baseFeature true
    defaultConfig {
        minSdkVersion 23
        targetSdkVersion 26
        versionCode 1
        versionName "1.0"
    }
    buildTypes {
        release {
            minifyEnabled false
            proguardFiles getDefaultProguardFile('proguard-android.txt'), 'proguard-rules.pro'
        }
    }
}

dependencies {
    api 'com.android.support:appcompat-v7:26.1.0'
    api 'com.android.support.constraint:constraint-layout:1.0.2'
    application project(':app')
    feature project(':feature')
}

Conclusion

You have created an Android Instant App from scratch, You have learned about different types of modules in Android Instant Apps.

Recommended Reading :-

Develop Android Photo Gallery Application Complete Source Code

Integrate Firebase Native Advanced AdMob Ads in Android

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