Android recently introduced a concept called Instant Apps. They’re pretty cool.
Instant apps are small portions of an app that is downloaded on demand in order to display and process information in a more rich way than a website could. Say you’re browsing for shoes online, but now want to buy. With an instant app, you could jump into the app, look at a 3D model of the shoes, choose sizes and buy with Google Wallet. Neato.
Rich. Fast. Awesome Experience.
I think this is coming to iOS. And here’s my evidence:
- Apple has a ecosystem for extensions now. We have the ability to create extensions for Siri, watchOS, tvOS, Push Notifications, today widgets and more! It’s not hard to see another one being added there for instant apps.
- Apple is training us. Apple likes to train devs. They trained us with Size Classes so they could introduce iPad Split screen. They trained us with extensions so they could release more. They like to hint and train. I think the big hint right now is the extensions ecosystem but moreover the frameworks way of thinking about code. Small, modular code that has it’s own networking layer, security and other goodness would fit perfectly into what is required, technically, for instant apps. A few storyboards for display, an API client and some access to personal data via an app group and keychain. Done.
- It’s the natural extension of Universal Links. Apple, once again, hinting/training us to think this way have actually shown us the mechanism of how our app will be called when it comes time to display the rich content. Being able to deep link from a website to a portion of an app you don’t even have yet would be a awesome user experience, especially if implemented properly.
In conclusion, I’m positive app extensions are coming to iOS. I think we could see this as early as iOS 11, or maybe even 12. Whenever the time, if you’re an iOS Dev, it’s time to learn some extension programming. If you’re a consumer or an onlooker, prepare for something cool. Something amazing. And something probably better than Android will ever be able to do.