(Credit: Screenshots: Download.com/Tom McNamara)

Every year, the Google I/O developer conference has been the company's platform for announcing and showing off major projects, but it can be a long and winding road. In 2014, Google announced Project Volta, which was an initiative to reign in Android's sometimes unpredictable battery consumption. This quietly fizzled.

SEE: Google files trademark request for mysterious 'Shortwave' audio app

In 2016, Google launched Instant Apps, a system where you could download a slice of an app without having to get and set up the full thing. One example shown was a New York Times crossword puzzle, which the user would be able to jump into without having to download and set up the full crossword app.

But Google has kept at it with Instant Apps over the past couple years, and now it's starting to come to fruition with a new introduced "Try Now" button that will appear for certain apps and games on the Google Play Store, CNBC reports.

And of course, as is Google tradition, we have a new branding: Google Play Instant.

This latest iteration of the company's initiative comes via AppOnBoard, a startup that didn't contact Google about its app trial technique until March of this year. AppOnBoard Representative Johnathan Zwieg told CNBC that he fired off an email to Google after hearing about their project from a lecture at the Games Developer Conference, and he was able to quickly arrange a meeting with Google product manager Jonathan Karmel.

Fast forward five months, and AppOnBoard's tech is at the center of Google's app trial strategy, right down to a company watermark that pops up during the process. It's not clear how much progress Google made with its own internal teams before taking on a third party.

Right now, Google Play Instant has limited to a handful of participating developers, so you won't get this feature for every app.

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How does Google Play Instant work?

For a participating app, its Google Play Store product page will now feature a "Try Now" button to the left of the Install button. In the case of Cookie Jam Blast - Match and Crush Puzzle, tapping Try Now will send you to a brief loading screen, followed by an interactive tutorial. Once you've finished the tutorial, you're invited to install the rest of the app, which has been downloading in the background.

Basically, Google Play Instant paves over most of the wait for an app to download and install, which can be time-consuming on older phones, or ones with an unreliable connection. It also adds a new tier of apps favored by Google, beyond their Editor's Choice badge. Whether or not gamers should actually favor another free-to-play match-3 game is another matter, but AppOnBoard's technology was solid during our testing.

On Android devices, the Google app can insert Play Store app installation links within its search results, but the Try Now option only appears in the Play Store app on your device. With a Google search widget preinstalled on the home screen of hundreds of millions of phones around the world, it's even more prominent than the Play Store app; we'll see if Google takes the next step and adds Try Now within the search widget.

The takeaways

  • Google has started testing an app demo system called Google Play Instant, where Android users can download a slice of a game without having to wait for a full download and installation process to complete.
  • This tech comes from a startup called AppOnBoard which partnered with Google back in March to bring the project to fruition.

Also see

Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.