Apple App Clips vs Instant Apps vs Progressive Web Apps: Which Is Better For Your Business?

Like Instant Apps and Progressive Web Apps, Apple App Clips are about making apps as seamless to use as a web. However, there are many differences between them. Let’s take a closer look at how they work and what benefits businesses can get by using them.

Today, the App store is home to nearly 2 million apps. Meanwhile, Android users have even more from which to choose, with 2.56 million available through the Google Play Store. That means mobile app development companies have to change more quickly to adapt users\’ needs. 

When it comes to user experience, the native apps provide a seamless experience to users, resulting in higher customer satisfaction. However, in recent years, three new contenders appear. They are fast, ephemeral and eliminate the barrier to download an app from the store. 

Apple App Clips

In the latest worldwide developer conference WWDC 2020, Apple unveiled its new innovations – App Clips.

What is the app clips on iPhone?

As they explain of their official website:

An App Clip is a small part of an app that lets you do a task quickly, without downloading and installing the full app. You can discover App Clips in Safari, Maps, and Messages, or in the real world when you rent a bike, pay for parking, order food, and more.

In other words, you can access parts of an app without downloading it in iPhone or iPad. Because of focusing on simple and quick tasks, these app clips provide limited function. They can be activated through the following methods:

  • Apple’s App Clip Codes
  • NFC Tags
  • QR Codes
  • Safari App Banners
  • Links in Messages
  • Place Cards in Maps

At physical location, you can simply launch the app clips by scanning QR code, an NFC tag or a visual code provided by Apple. For example, you are traveling and you need to rent a bike. You come up to the renting spot and see that you can take a bike by scanning code and making instant payment. What\’s more interesting? If you use App Clips for second time, it will automatic give you a suggestion.

Even though the app clips are a fresh approach for Apple, but they also reminds us about something familiar – WeChat’s mini programs. In detail, if you want to call a cab, you can simply go to WeChat and bring up a ride-hailing mini program. Mini programs can be found by scanning a QR code or searching by keywords. There’s no need to download an extra app.

App clips examples

For another example, you see an advertising from a food delivery company and click on it. If the restaurant offers app clips, you don\’t need to install the full app on App Store. Instead, the corresponding mini app starts instantly, and you can use it to select a tasty-looking meal, pay with Apple Pay, and just wait for the delivery.

Source: 9to5mac

Interestingly, you can share App Clips Card with other people. They can be sent as links in iMessage, popped up as a suggestion when you’re browsing a mobile site in Safari, shown on a business’s details page in Apple Maps or may appear in Siri’s Nearby suggestions.

The third example is Phoenix 2 game. Game developer Firi Games has implemented an App Clip for their space shooter game. The App Clips game can be played by visiting their Phoenix 2 website on an ‌iOS 14‌ device and tapping \”Play\” on the banner that appears on the top of the screen. After a few moments of downloading the assets, the introduction level to Phoenix 2 appears playable as a native App Clip on your device.

Phoenix 2 App Clips game demo

Here are more examples of App Clips:

  • Spin
  • Etsy
  • Drop Recipes
  • Park Whiz
  • Phoenix 2
  • Panera Bread
  • ChibiStudio
  • Parcel – Delivery Tracking
  • SignEasy
  • SmartGym
  • Unwind
  • WaterMinder
  • Quit Anger
  • CardPointers

App Clips benefits for business

With the iOS 14 release and App Clips appearance, the world will become more interactive. And user interactions with apps will become faster. App Clips help users not have to register or add any payment information (like credit card number) while using the app. Instead of waiting for downloading, all you have to do is to scan a QR code or tag to promptly get what you need.

In addition, App Clips can even attract more potential app users who will end up installing your solution. For instance, the App Clip could cache the customer’s last order and present it as a recommendation. In this way, you will definitely speed up the ordering process.

Now as to some technical aspects. Flutter developers can integrate app clips in its existing app. Additionally, if you need any Apple\’s new & update UI, here is an update to iOS 14 kit for App Clips.

App Clips limitations

However, there are technical limitations of app clip you need to consider:

  • App Clips are limited to 10MB in size.
  • To protect user data, Apple App Clips cannot access to motion and fitness data, Apple music and media as well as data from apps like Contacts, Files, Messages, Reminders, and Photos.
  • App Clips can only be launched by the user, or in response to an App Clip URL.

Android instant apps

In its own annual developer conference, Google I/O 2017, Google presented a mini-app concept named Android Instant Apps. They give users the chance to try them immediately, without having to navigate a labyrinth of offers. One common use of Android Instant Apps is to demo ultralight versions of games. Users can play right there. And then, if the app makes good impression, they is much more likely to install the full version.

Progressive web apps

Supported by Google since 2015, a progressive web app brings the high level of user experience. As a consequence, with the same features as native apps, progressive website has become the big buzz in the market. Here are some advantages of progressive web apps:

  • Modern, fast and easy to use
  • Responsive: runs on almost devices like desktop, mobile, or tablet
  • Secure: is safe due to serving through HTTPS
  • Developed by Google: PWA is great for SEO
  • Regularly communicate: keep updated via push notifications
  • Friendly UI/UX: that engaging the same interaction methodology as a native app has
  • Easy to install: can be shared via a simple link or URL
  • Reliably connected: work offline and on sparse networks

App Clips vs Instant Apps

Briefly, an App Clip is a lightweight version of your app that offers users some of its functionality when and where they need it. That means iPhone user can use  a part of your app without downloading the full version. Android’s Instant Apps also provide a similar functionality.

However, what are the difference between app clips and instant apps?

Apple App ClipsAndroid Instant Apps
StoreApp Clips cannot be found in the App Store.Whereas, Instant Apps have to be opened from the Play Store.
SizeApp clip has a limited size (10MB).While the Instant App is more of a demo version.
User experienceOne app can create several App Clips and provide potential customers with different experiencesMeanwhile, Instant Apps cannot change and always offer the same content no matter the user’s context.
EcosystemApp Clips can help skip account creation processes and support payment processing flows.In instant app, payments are prohibited.

When we talk about the third difference, it means, for instance, a chain of restaurants using App Clips to let clients order food online. Based on their location and special, they can use different clips to display different menus. Finally, in the fourth differences, it empowers users to easily get a taste for the app before downloading it. Because they\’ve already signed in with AppleID and the payment can be processed with Apple Pay.

App Clips vs PWA

Even app clip concept and progressive web app can be seen as similar, there are even more differences. The Progressive Web Apps don\’t need to download from Google Play. They are launched directly from the browser, which leverages all the power of the native app. While PWA is an online tool to boost performance, the app clip is heavily rooted in the offline world. So notice to use it for different problems.

Apple App Clips Use Cases

You can develop several App Clips for different use cases.

  • For F&B. The restaurant can develop the app clip into its website to encourage the users to order the meal. Conveniently, they can order their meal and enjoy it on-site by using a QR-code. They don\’t need to download the full app to process the order or payment.
  • For E-commerce. It is a perfect pick for e-commerce, where the user rarely downloads the full store app (usually preferring to use the website). For example, retailers can track a user location within the store using beacons to gather information about paths and optimize their shopping experience.
  • For advertising. The function that enabling user to instantly pay for a service delivers tremendous opportunities for marketing and advertising. The QR codes not only deliver great experience, but also boost conversion rates and performance significantly.


The concept of App Clips is worthwhile. As you can see, their feature is definitely a great way for developers to allow users to try out new apps before downloading their full versions on the App Store. For users, they are also helpful to let you have fewer apps installed on your device if you don’t use them often.

We believe that many businesses can, and should, leverage this new technology to provide their customers and users with greater value and better interactions. If you already have some cool idea of how to use Apple App clips in your business, drop us a line. And if you’ve got the feeling it can grant you some benefit, but you have no idea exactly what or how just yet, contact us and we will think over the problem and come up with something together!

If you have any questions, let\’s contact us via:

Related articles:

Do you want to build your own website/mobile app?

Our team of experienced professionals will do everything possible to provide you with a quality result that will exceed your expectations.

Contact Us