What Are Google Instant Apps and How Do They Work?

Learn to enable instant apps on your Android

Google Instant apps (also called Google Play or Android Instant apps) are a convenient alternative to downloading and installing an app, letting you use parts of it even if it's not currently installed on your smartphone or tablet.

What Is the Purpose of Instant Apps?

Developers include Android Instant in their apps so users can preview a slimmed-down version before deciding whether or not they want to download and install the full app. This offering can come in the form of a Try Now button on the app's Google Play Store page, a banner on a website, a link in an email, or an alternate delivery method such as a scannable QR code.

How Do Instant Apps Work?

As soon as an instant app is selected, Google Play automatically sends only the files needed to run the respective features to your device and instantly launches the app. No downloads, no installers, and, most importantly, no waiting.

How to Enable Instant Apps on Your Android Device

To take advantage of Google Play Instant, first ensure the feature is enabled on your smartphone or tablet.

  1. Open the Google Play Store from your device's home screen.

  2. In the Google Play app interface, tap your profile picture in the upper-right corner.

  3. When the drop-down menu appears, tap Settings.

    Google Play > Profile > Settings on Android phone.
  4. Expand the User controls section.

  5. Tap Google Play Instant.

  6. Tap the Upgrade web links toggle so that it turns green, signifying this setting is now active.

    User Controls > Google Play Instant > Upgrade Web Links on an Android phone.

    Tapping specific Google Play-branded links will still launch instant apps, when applicable, even if the Upgrade web links setting is disabled.

How to Remove Data From Google Instant Apps

Although instant apps are not full-fledged versions and are not actually installed on your smartphone or tablet, in many instances, they still store data as you use them. This data can be removed by taking the steps below.

  1. Open Settings, then scroll down and tap Apps.

  2. A list of apps appears, containing those installed on your device, as well as Instant Apps that have been used previously. Tap the name of the Instant App in question.

  3. A wealth of information about the Instant App displays, including how much storage space and memory it's using, as well as battery and mobile data usage. To clear all data currently stored by this app, tap Clear app and follow the on-screen prompts.

    Apps, BuzzFeed, Clear app in Android settings
  4. You can also view or modify the permissions currently granted to this Instant App in the App settings section, as well as control which web addresses are supported by the app.

    If you want to install the full version of a Google Instant App, that can also be achieved through this App info interface. Just tap Install.

Was this page helpful?