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How to enable and use Instant Apps on Android

Instant Apps are a neat idea: instead of downloading an app from the Play Store that takes time, resources and, in many countries, expensive mobile data, it allows Android users running Marshmallow and above (and soon Lollipop, too) to "try before you buy." Since rolling out to all developers earlier this year, Google says that 500 million Android devices have access to the innovative feature, but Instant Apps doesn't work out of the box, at least not yet — it needs to be enabled.

If your phone runs Android 6.0, you can go to your phone's settings to enable it. Here's how to do it.

How to enable Android Instant Apps

  1. From your home screen swipe down on the notification shade.
  2. Tap on Settings (the cog icon).
  3. Scroll down and tap on Google.

  1. Tap on Instant Apps.
  2. Toggle feature On.
  3. Confirm you agree to the terms by tapping, Yes, I'm in.

That's it! Once you're done enabling Instant Apps, you can then search for a compatible app and begin using it. Right now, there are over 50 apps compatible with Instant Apps, including Jet, Onefootball, Citymapper, Realtor, Jet, Vimeo, dotloop, NYTimes Crosswords and many more.

How to access an Instant App

It's possible to access an Instant App from any URL, including search, social media, messaging, and other deep links. The easiest way is just to search for an app from Google. In this example, we're looking to get directions somewhere in New York using Citymapper.

  1. Go to a Google search page.
  2. Enter your search term, such as Citymapper.
  3. Tap on the first result.
  4. Use the app, or if you want the whole experience, tap on Get the app to download it from the Play Store.

Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central. 

28 Comments
  • I don't have anything that says instant apps in the Google settings on my OnePlus 5.
  • Not on my Lenovo P2 either.
  • Yeah.... Not working on my Pixel XL yet.... I used the Citymapper example above. although I have the Instant App set in the setting, Google search gives me the webpage address for Citymapper... You I guess it has not rolled out to me yet...
  • Try 'Wish.' CityMapper doesnt work for me but Wish does.
  • where do you live? I've been trying a bunch of different apps. all the same. can't find these "links" in the browser
  • Neither Citymapper or Wish worked for me.
  • Vimeo works if u just want to see it working... Type a video title followed by vimeo
  • My Moto Z Play doesn't have the option either, at least, not by the method they show it.
  • Nothing on Huawei P9 either
  • It is working for me now. Pixel XL.
  • It's there on my Moto X Pure running a custom Nougat ROM
  • It's on my TMO HTC 10!
  • It's been enabled on s8+ by itself. Don't think I've had a reason to use it though.
  • Hmmm.... seems if you are using an app and running it off a server you are still using mobile data. Thanks Google, but I have unlimited data and more than enough memory so not for me.
  • I think you misunderstood the purpose of this
  • Yes, totally misunderstood! It's about discoverability. You search something and instead of getting just web or app results, you can get the content of the app directly
  • Works on my Asus Zenfone 3 running android 7.0 nougat
  • Huh... I've had it on but apparently nothing I've visited is compatible.. Only vimeo.
  • Do you have to keep yourself signed in to your gmail? Also does it work with any browser or just Chrome?
    Thanks.
  • My Honor 8 doesn't have it yet.....
  • You didn't blur out your email address at the bottom of the last screenshot.
  • My mid range ZTE phone has it.
  • does not work on my pixel on the DP4 android O preview.
  • Works fine on Moto G4 Plus Dual SIM...
  • Not on Samsung Galaxy S8+
  • I don't have this option available in my Google settings. Is this a limited roll out?
  • Maybe try enrolling in the beta for google play services and the google app. I was always enrolled so I'm not sure if I need it for the setting to appear
  • Still don't get it. After several article and forums too many of us are asking.... What's this for?