There have been lots of new developments from Google and Apple that have gotten app owners wondering if they are taking advantage of emerging capabilities for their apps and its content. In recent years we’ve seen the introduction of Progressive Web Apps, Android Instant Apps and Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). We’ve also seen an emerging trend of app owners publishing Lite versions of their apps. It is clear that the app space is being reconfigured by the tech giants who dictate the market, and whilst some of these developments offer new opportunities for discovery, how likely is it that they will catch on? And will they really offer your users the best experience on mobile?

Well, we’ve covered the latest developments in the mobile space so you can see what’s worth the investment…

Lite Apps

Messenger Lite: speedy Google Play Store download

What is it?

Lite apps are native apps that strip away heavy features of a particular app to minimize its size – this gives the user a more seamless, data conserving experience. Lite apps appeal to a broader range of mobile devices with lower storage capacity and continue to work under poor network conditions. In the past year, we’ve seen the release of Facebook Lite, Messenger Lite and the recent release of Instagram Lite on the Google Play Store, compatible with any basic Android phone.

Benefits

The lightweight copies of these Google apps primarily target users with low-end phones, in areas where internet connections may be slower or users don’t have access to larger data packages. As Instagram has seen, it offers the potential for swift adoption in emerging internet markets without stripping users of experiencing an app’s native features. Offering users a seamless app experience, regardless of conditions or devices, is bound to have global appeal.

Will it catch on?

For the bigger app players in the space, it seems that low-data and low-storage approaches are key to tackling global expansion. Uber Lite launched in India last month with a stripped-down app, downsizing from 181.4MB to 5MB. It is clear that Lite Apps are a great option for businesses looking to scale, and they seem to be catching on, although potentially should only be considered once you have a refined and popular product.

Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Google AMP Carousel – instant article launch 

What is it?

With the aim of creating faster experiences on mobile web, Google AMP is an open source framework that guides content owners to build lightweight web pages that load ‘instantly’ on a mobile device. They strip away external rich media, analytics and JavaScript and you are only able to use proprietary tags set out by AMP. You may see an AMP carousel of articles appearing when performing a Google search via your phone.

Benefits

Google AMP offers the potential to increase the volume of organic search traffic to your content as Google prioritises AMP results when a user searches on mobile. Whilst these users are not driven to the app, many can see an increase in engagement and conversions as a result of a speedier and more seamless mobile experience.

Will it catch on?

Google AMP is not a substitute for a publishing app, but the AMP carousel certainly has been valuable for publishers in increasing the discoverability of their regularly updated content on mobile . This does still come with its downfalls, as you will have to invest time and resources into replicating your standard web pages. Tracking the performance of your pages will be trickier, also, as you will need to implement special tracking parameters to continue to accurately capture engagement and conversion metrics, and correlate these with your existing website or app metrics. Google made an announcement at Google I/O 2018 that they will be taking steps to strengthen the AMP ecosystem, so we think AMP could be here to stay.

Progressive Web Apps (PWA):

Twitter Lite – Progressive Web App with a native feel

What is it?

Another Google initiative, Progressive Web Apps (PWA), are sites optimised for desktop which tweak its look on mobile to give a native feel, the premise being that they are fast and reliable, regardless of network state. With iOS 11.3, Apple also silently added support for the basic set of new technologies behind the idea of Progressive Web Apps.

Benefits

This varies on Android and iOS. On Android, you are able to use features similar to push notifications and also bypass the walled gardens of the app stores as a PWA doesn’t require installation. Furthermore, the PWA is discoverable through search engines. It should be noted that with iOS, you still can’t access native device features such as Face ID, In-app Payments, Siri, contacts or background information and you can also only store around 50mb of offline data.

Will it catch on?

A few app businesses have used PWAs cleverly, like Twitter, who recently rolled out Twitter Lite, turning to PWA rather than creating a slimmed down app alternative. However, if re-engagement opportunities aren’t as prominent on iOS it could be additional work with minimum rewards reaped. Lastly, Google regularly rolls out new initiatives like PWA and they can be quick to kill projects that don’t perform well…this could be one of them.

Android Instant Apps

Android Instant Apps – Vimeo – Try Now on the Google Play Store

What is it?

Back with another Google initiative, we have Android Instant Apps. These are stripped-down native apps streamed through a link, which deep-links to a module of an app. This means users are directed to smaller subsets of your app that allow for single pages or features of your app to be downloaded so users can access native features on demand, without installing the app on their device.

Benefits

Android Instant Apps could be an effective method for discoverability as users can ‘trial’ the app from the Play Store, Google Search, social channels and more. Google has paid special attention to the streaming of gaming apps with Instant Gameplay, allowing users to trial games with the option to install later. It has even been suggested that Android Instant Apps will be compatible with AdWords in the future, so users can trial a game immediately after clicking an ad. Android Instant Apps workswell for apps in the gaming category and could also work well for video streaming apps, retail and social.

Will it catch on?

If you decide to go for Android Instant Apps, be prepared for some manual labour as developers will need to reassess their app code. Is it worth it? It seems like with Google’s new focus on Instant Gameplay to drive revenue for the Google Play Store could be a major opportunity for gaming app owners. Outside of this we’ve seen Dotloop, Vimeo and NYTimes Crosswords jump on the bandwagon. Only time will tell how popular Android Instant Apps will be for other verticals.

Want to find out more about optimising your app and keeping up with the latest OS capabilities? Make sure to subscribe to our Mastering Mobile Marketing video series. You can also get in touch by visiting the Contact Us page. Follow us on LinkedIn, chat with us on Twitter @yodelmobile, and join our #mobilemarketingUK LinkedIn group.