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Google Starts Live Testing Instant Apps on Android (zdnet.com) 23

Last year, Google previewed a new feature that would allow a user to try out an app without having to download and install it first. China's WeChat recently made the service live on its platform, but Google too hasn't forgotten about it. From a report: Google said it has started live testing of its Instant App initiative in a move that could make it easier for developers and companies to manage their mobile footprints. Developers will have to make their apps more modular to work with Instant Apps, but if you're an enterprise you have to watch this project closely. Here's why: With modular apps that are tied to the Web support, maintenance and updating could become easier. Instant Apps, which blend the app and mobile Web, could curb the need to support Android apps as heavily. Integration with the Web could provide a native experience yet lead to more up sell, subscription and data activity for companies.
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Google Starts Live Testing Instant Apps on Android

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  • by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Tuesday January 24, 2017 @06:07PM (#53731223)

    What makes this kind of thing any more desirable than it was back when it was called "ActiveX" or "Applet"?

    • ...or "iFrame"?

      (/me ducks and runs like hell, laughing maniacally...)

    • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Tuesday January 24, 2017 @06:30PM (#53731359) Journal

      It does seem to be a similar concept, but the implementation differences are significant.

      ActiveX "applets" are/were full Windows programs, which could do anything any other application could do. I wrote one which manipulated hardware buffers in the video card.

      Android Instant Apps don't have access to storage, to other applications, etc. Like Javascript, they are much more restricted than ActiveX was.

      • ActiveX "applets" are/were full Windows programs, which could do anything any other application could do.

        Which is why for a time they were widely used.

        Android Instant Apps don't have access to storage, to other applications, etc.

        If that were wholly true they would not be very useful...

        Instant apps have some access to the system, with restrictions. In addition to the standard Android permissions apps have to obey, they have some other limitations [android.com] - a subset:

        * Can't access external storage - but they can acc

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      What makes this kind of thing any more desirable than it was back when it was called "ActiveX" or "Applet"?

      Or even... Apps?

      Something present since iOS was called iPhoneOS... hell, this was a feature present since the original iPhone release back in 2007!

      In fact, Steve Jobs insisted this was the only way to get apps on the iPhone, and pushed for HTML5 to include ways to get access to the camera, location (GPS), sensor data, etc. And it's still a way for apps to be written that bypass the Apple App Store even

  • First there was the web, then everything had to be moved to apps. Now that everyone is finally comfortable with apps, they're admitting that web-based interaction is superior, and starting the gradual migration back that direction.
    Apps have a time and place (projects that rely on phone-specific hardware, such as tilt sensors, touch screens, or GPS), but there is absolutely no reason I should have to load an app to shop on Amazon or Ebay, order more paperclips from Office Depot, or download coupons from Bu
    • Didn't Jobs assume that websites would have this functionality with the first rev of the iPhone, thus it didn't have any additional apps at first?

      I can see this functionality useful for limited time events, such as an app used during a music festival which runs for a few days and then is gone, but other than that, a website can do most of the ephemeral functionality, and an app can do more permanent, stateful stuff.

    • How come "there is absolutely no reason"? What about tracking you more easily? or accessing not-related personal information? There are plenty of reasons. They're just not your reasons.
      • My point exactly; there's nothing there that benefits me, the one who has to use his time, data, and limited storage for an app. It's a pretty rotten arrangement.
    • Well... we might be half-circle here ;-)

      This is sort of like Java applets, but instead of an "anyone can just fire one up on their webpage", there's a curated list of them. To be accepted onto the list they must behave vaguely correctly, and in return are allowed access to things your browser can't reach. In that regard, they're in-browser functionality, but they're running in a super-browser that has access to hardware and data that normal browsers don't.

      For what it's worth, this looks like it might just b

  • We've had this for a while. It's called "mobile web sites"
  • except it was for J2ME/Java dumbphone apps. Basicly, it ran the apps in the browser (with a bit of conversion or emulation done first) and provided a virtual keypad you could click on with your mouse to try apps before you bought them for your phone. A neat idea, but I imagine many people scooped the .jar/.jad files from the browser cache and installed them to their phone with a usb cable and Bitpim, so they dropped this service. Android "apps" are just enhanced Java apps, not to different from the old styl

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