Google Just Changed Event Apps For Good

Google just held its developer conference yesterday, I/O. Following the revolutionary announcement that Facebook made a few weeks ago, Google also introduced some news that will greatly impact the way we use apps at events.

What Happened?

The big news is that Google introduced Instant Apps.

An evolution in app sharing and discovery, Android Instant Apps enables Android apps to run instantly, without requiring installation. Instant Apps lets you experience what you love about apps – fast and beautiful user interfaces, high performance, and great capabilities – with just a tap.

You can watch a video from Google themselves here or below:

We are now used to the concept of surfing the web or downloading apps. Google has effectively introduced a middle layer. If you have an Android based phone, developers will have created a lighter version of apps that works as a website. It is a downgrade of apps and an upgrade of responsive websites.

Instant Apps are functional enough to give you more depth than just a web page, they are optimised for a mobile experience, but they are not full apps.

The Implications

The implications are huge for the events and for the web in general, if Google believes in it. That is a big if. Google has taught us not to get too excited about its new products. Having axed Wave, Buzz and very soon G+ (which is destined to die apparently), we should be wary of getting over excited.

A very exciting scenario is that if Google really believes in this new format and Apple follows too, we may have entered a new touch point that stirs up not only the event app market but event technology in general.


I am fresh from analyzing the market for the 2016 edition of the Event App Bible. Having read through hundreds of qualitative answers our sample provided and having looked at the results of the research responses from 900 eventprofs, I can certainly say downloads and adoption are still two massive problems.

While your average sales rep loves to shoot 80% figures to lure you into purchasing apps, reality is distant. We looked at adoption rates and they are still very low. 29% of event professionals reported less than 35% of their attendees downloaded their event app.

Instant Apps position themselves as a big fixer for the main obstacle to adoption:

We don’t want another app. We have too many. Specially if it is for an event that will be over in two days.

I’ve listened to the cases of many app providers saying amazing words about how keeping the community engaged all year long is what their app does. The thing is that as much as they try (in some instances with good effort), they can’t fix something that is broken. The process of downloading a 90Mb app for an event that will be over in 2 days doesn’t work. Get over it!

Instant Apps seem like a fantastic compromise to me. As an attendee, the website by itself doesn’t cut it. It lacks some of the networking and live engagement capabilities I may want during the event.

Instant Apps can be your app-ertif (sorry had to do it). They stimulate your willingness to learn more and be engaged with the event, without the hassle of downloading another app. It can create a new entry point for laggards to show them the real benefit of mobile apps for events.

So What Should You Do About it?

If you currently use an event app, pick up your phone and call the provider. Ask them what their plan is, in regards to Instant Apps. Don’t expect them to be ready and rolling integration out tomorrow, but try to grasp if they have a strategy around it. Instant Apps are an upgrade to existing apps, so if you already have an app on the Google Play Store, as Google puts it:

It can take less than a day to get up and running for some developers, though the effort involved varies, depending on how your app is structured.

Don’t believe those that dismiss at all costs. I am inclined to think they are dodging the subject. Smart app providers will tell you the pros and cons while guiding you towards the best choice for your event. Remember this is not about having the latest shiny gadget, it is about getting your audience to be engaged with the app.

If you haven’t purchased an app yet, add Instant Apps to your RFP. The Event App Bible has a template for that.

As always read, read, read about it. Successful eventprofs keep themselves informed about what’s happening and make educated decisions about their event (technology) strategy.