What are Instant Apps on the Google Play Store?

December 7, 2022 • April Miller


In 2021, smartphone users downloaded over 27 billion apps from the Google Play store and Apple generated $21.5 billion in consumer spending on apps. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering we use apps for almost anything. 

Whether you’re cooking a new recipe, tracking your workouts, catching up on the latest news or scrolling through social media feeds, you probably have a sizable collection of apps on your phone. Downloading apps from the Google Play store is simple, but the more apps you download, the less storage space is available on your device.

However, Android users can take advantage of one critical feature on their device’s app store called Google Play Instant. Let’s discuss Google Play Instant Apps, how they work and how you can enable them on your Android.

What is an Instant App?

Google Instant Apps allow you to use a portion of an app without downloading or installing it onto your device. Some app developers will include Android Instant capabilities, enabling users to access a slimmed-down version, give it a trial run and decide if it’s worth downloading. 

One of the main reasons for this feature is to help Android users avoid downloading apps they’ll rarely use again, allowing them to keep their storage capacity free for other downloadable items.

Because new Android apps are always emerging, it’s worth using this feature to avoid dealing with any storage space issues in the future.

How Do Instant Apps Work?

Android users can download these applications in a few ways, including clicking on:

  • The “Try Now” button on the Google Play Store’s app page
  • A link in an email
  • A banner from a trusted website

Users can also access Instant Apps by scanning a compatible QR code. While every app on the Google Play store is unique, the Instant feature allows you to use an eligible app’s basic functionalities. Using the Instant feature on your Android will enable you to save space on your device, experience the basics of the app with ease and save time by eliminating app installation.

How to Enable on Your Android

If you want to use Instant Apps, you’ll have to ensure the feature is enabled. Follow these steps to turn the feature on:

  • Open the Google Play Store.
  • Tap your profile picture in the upper right corner.
  • Tap Settings on the drop-down menu.
  • Expand the User Controls section.
  • Tap Google Play Instant.
  • Tap Upgrade web links so it’s toggled on (it should turn green when active).

Once you’ve completed these steps, you can start using the Instant Play feature.

How to Use Google Play Instant Apps

When you’re browsing the internet on your smartphone and click a link, the Google Play Store will automatically check if there’s an available app capable of opening that link. 

If you do not have the app installed on your device, the Google Play Store will open the link in an instant app. These apps will only load a small portion of the full version of the app, allowing you to complete the current action without initiating an app download.

Install an Instant App

If you want to use the app as usual or offline, you’ll need to install it. You can install it by visiting the Google Play Store app or the Instant Apps Menu. 

Here are the instructions to install an app from the Google Play Store:

  • Open the Google Play Store or visit play.google.com
  • Search or browse for the app you want to download and install.
  • Select it and tap Install.

If you want to install an app by visiting the Instant Apps menu, follow these steps:

  • Open the Settings app.
  • Go to Google > Instant Apps.
  • Tap the app you want to install onto your device.
  • Tap Install. 

View Recent Instant Apps

If you want to see any Instant Apps that you’ve used recently, follow these steps:

  • Open the Settings app on your device.
  • Go to Google > Instant Apps.
  • Tap on apps to see usage details. 
  • Instant apps will appear on your list of Recent Apps, which can be located on your phone’s overview menu.

Clear Data From Instant Apps

Portions of and some data from Instant apps will be temporarily stored on your Android. If you want to delete these, follow these steps:

  • Open the Settings app on your device.
  • Go to Google > Instant Apps.
  • Tap on the instant app you want to change.
  • Tap Clear app data.

Remember that any information you share with an app developer is subject to the developer’s privacy policy. If you want to manage app data, you’ll have to contact the app developer directly.

Use Instant Apps to Optimize Your Android’s Storage Space

Every smartphone user would agree that running out of storage space is a nuisance. Solving the issue of low or no storage means you have to back up your files to a cloud storage platform, delete unnecessary photos or purchase more storage space. If you have an Android, use Google’s Instant Apps feature to free up space and test out apps before downloading and installing them.