An Android Instant App in 1 Line of Code
In the first quarter of this year, we decided to investigate converting our app, Cartogram, to an instant app. As it's a paid download, we wanted to provide users with a way of trying before they buy. We also wanted to reduce the number of refunds we were seeing. Cartogram's total download size is 2.82 MB currently, under the allowed limit of 10 MB. Originally this limit was 4MB, requiring significant refactoring to feature modules. Thankfully, instant apps have matured and constraints have softened. With the introduction of App Bundles, now your app module can be marked as instant, with a single line of code, and you're ready to publish.
<dist:module dist:instant="true" />
And there it is! By adding this 1 liner to your AndroidManifest.xml file, you're good to go! (Provided your entire app download size is under 10 MB, and you only have a single module 😅)
- For an app bundle to be instant-enabled, the combined download size of the code and resources within all instant-enabled modules must be at most 10 MB.
- If you have an existing app bundle that contains only a base module, you can instant-enable the app bundle by adding the above declaration to the module's manifest.
Instant apps have a number of limitations, and they don't suit every use case. Only a subset of permissions are allow, and SET_WALLPAPER is not covered. This means that our instant app is really just a demo, and not fully functional. When a user tries to set a wallpaper, they get hit with this prompt:
This comes from the Google Play services Instant App library.
Which provides some convenient methods to handle conversions!
So... Did it Improve Refunds?
It's tricky to deduce this from the Play Console analytics, but the short answer is kindof! A healthy percentage of users who downloaded the instant app convert to the paid version, but we are still seeing refunds. Ultimately, it's an on going process to improve the overall app, and its feature to minimise refunds. Price point is a key factor also. We plan to go into more detail in future posts on sales & growth of Cartogram, so stay tuned!
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We're a Digital Product Studio, based in Ireland.
Tags - Android, App Development, Google Play Console, ASO - App Store Optimization, Instant App, XML