Human nature seems to have a built-in predisposition to take sides, to create an us-vs-them scenario, to always be against something when others are not. We see exactly that kind of competition take shape within religion, nationalism, political parties, and siblings.
You see the same thing in technology. Windows vs. Mac. Android vs. iPhone. We don’t even need to have equivalent comparisons to start the wars. Too often it seems as if humans enjoy taking sides just, well, because. Is it genetic? Is it the way the cosmos works? Whatever it is, it’s everywhere.
We Mac users are supposed to disdain everything Windows. We iPhone users must turn up our collective noses at all things Android. Why? People hate ObamaCare when the name is used but are happy to support the basics it provides. Go figure. This week I came across an interesting change to Android that I would not mind seeing show up in my iPhone later this year. Google calls it Instant Apps. Think of faster web apps which Android smartphone users can try out before actually finding and downloading the real native app. You won’t need to open the App Store and search. Just tap on a URL and let the fun begin.
Why bother with a fake app when you can get the real thing from the Google Play Store? Apparently there’s a gap between simple-to-use web apps and the full on, fully baked native apps from the store, and Android smartphone users might be more willing to try to use an app if it was, 1) more easily available, as, say, in a URL link instead of the formality of the app store, or 2) an easier way for developers to get their wares in front of a user in the hopes they might try and then buy their apps.
The idea of Instant Apps is pretty basic to technology users. It’s yet another way for an app developer to sell an app but by reducing the typical friction points. No need to search the app store. No need to try a trial version. Just try out the free web app version and if you like it, the download and installation is just a touch away.
To be brutally honest about it, it appears that Instant Apps removes a few of the fingertip touches from the try-before-you-buy app trial process, but how is a web app going to be fully representative of a native app that comes from the app store?
Regardless, anything that reduces the friction that can point users– Android or iPhone– toward improved applications is a good idea, but there’s another inherently human issue at play here. Instant Apps is being tested to see how users actually handle the process and to determine if there is an uptake and uptick in the actual app purchase process. After all, everyone is out to get your money, amirite?
Here’s the problem. Already I have too many apps on my iPhone and iPad (and to a less extent, my Macs) and any easier process that allows me to trial an app might benefit Apple and app developers more than it benefits me. Why? I have only so many hours in a day, and only so much of that time can be devoted to using apps on my various iDevices. What I would prefer are more detailed videos of new and highly acclaimed applications so I can see exactly what makes them better. A lightweight web app does not give the full app experience, and does not tell me how and why an application should be considered for permanent placement among the already overflowing apps I have now. I want to like this new Android idea, yet I appreciate Apple’s willingness to remain disciplined about app store changes to ensure the ones they employ are worthwhile to the user experience.