ArcGIS Instant Apps

Introducing ArcGIS Instant Apps

Updated for the March 2022 release of ArcGIS Online.

The next generation of web mapping apps, ArcGIS Instant Apps, is available in ArcGIS Online. Use Instant Apps to quickly transform your maps into apps to provide your audience with an intuitive experience to interact with your maps and data.  

Instant Apps includes a library of app templates (Image 1) with selection guidance and two configuration experiences – express and full. The Instant Apps landing page includes focused apps, each with a specific purpose including viewing a map, comparing two things, getting directions, viewing a gallery, and finding something nearby. You’re guided to select the best app for your map and data. The map’s components, such as pop-ups, symbolization, and attachments are analyzed and apps with compatible capabilities are suggested.  

The configuration experiences provide speed and ease as well as deep capabilities when needed. Using the express setup, you can choose and configure an app within 5 minutes. The full setup is available if you want to configure additional capabilities. Confidently create web apps with Instant Apps knowing they are built for your audience. Their mobile first design makes them accessible on any device. These apps are also localized to support many languages and are accessible to people using assistive technologies.  

Image of Instant Apps Gallery
Image 1—Instant Apps landing page available via Map Viewer, Create menu, and item details page as of June 2021 release

Many of these apps, such as Attachment Viewer, Nearby, and Interactive Legend, may seem familiar, having been accessible via Configurable Apps in the past. At the June 2021 release of ArcGIS Online, Instant Apps can be found under the app creation options on the Content page, on map Item Details pages, and in Map Viewer.  

Quickly choose and create the right app  

The apps you create with Instant Apps provide an intuitive experience for your audience to interact with your maps and dataThe Instant Apps landing page (Image 1) provides an engaging, interactive experience and guidance to help you choose an appropriate app template and the right tools for your map. This enables you to quickly browse and choose the right app for your specific map. When you click the Create app button in Map Viewer, select Instant Apps (Image 2) to open the Instant Apps landing page to browse for to use with your current map. 

Image of Instant Apps button in Map Viewer
Image 2—Instant Apps option in Map Viewer Create App menu

This page launches on the Browse All tab, which presents all available app templates, while the Featured tab showcases app templates that are popular, updated, or newNew apps and recently updated apps are shown with badges highlighting new features. When browsing the available apps, click the down arrow for more information about the purpose and description of the app and real-world examples of how the app can be used (Image 3). 

Image of App Description for Zone Lookup app
Image 3—Zone Lookup app description and examples of how the app can be used

A new tab on the create app landing page, called My Apps (Image 4), has been introduced in the June 2021 ArcGIS Online releaseMy Apps allows you to manage your existing Instant Apps all in one place. You can configure, make a copy of, or delete existing apps. Preview and Choose options, which appear on the My Apps tab when opening this page from Map Viewer or an item details page, allow you to view and create an app that uses the map selected with the same template and settings as your existing app. If you create an app with the same settings as an existing app using a different map, you may need to update settings that relate to layers in the map. 

Image of the My Apps tab in the Instant Apps landing page
Image 4-My Apps tab in the Instant Apps landing page

On the Instant Apps landing page, you can choose the appropriate app template to start configuring your app. When launched from Map Viewer or an item details page, you will notice that the create app landing page provides recommendations of which app to use based on the data and configuration of your map. As an example, Attachment Viewer will be recommended for maps that have layers with attachments enabled. If your map does not meet the requirements for an app, a warning message will appear on the app thumbnail informing you of the requirements for building the app (Image 5).  

Image of Attachment Viewer app in gallery with message stating that map does not meet requirements
Image 5—Attachment Viewer app on the landing page with a warning message stating requirements

Choose your app based on the purpose and configuration of your map. You can also search for particular tools that are included in the apps in the search bar. As an example, enter “screenshot” to locate apps with the screenshot tool or “time” to find out which apps have the ability to set a time slider. As of the September 2021 release of ArcGIS Online, you can now search by multiple capabilities (Image 6) 

Image of the Instant Apps Gallery filtered to show apps that have the screenshot tool and filter capabilities
Image 6—Instant Apps page filtered to show only apps that have the screenshot tool and filter capabilities based on search

Still not sure which template to choose? Try Suggestions in the Instant Apps landing page, new at the March 2022 release (Image 7). When you expand Suggestions panel you are presented with a set of questions about the intended purpose of your app. As you answer the questions, the apps in the landing page are filtered to show templates recommended based on your responses. Use this feature as a guide to find an app that meets your needs and discover more about various templates.  

Suggestions feature guides you to choosing a template for your workflow
Image 7-Suggestions feature guides you to choosing a template for your workflow

Click the Preview button to instantly see your map in an app with all the default settings (Image 8). The preview option allows you to determine if the app’s default settings meet your needs and you can choose to create the app instantly. 

Image of app preview available in the Instant Apps Gallery
Image 8—Preview window provides the option to view your map in the app with default settings

Configure an intuitive user experience with Express Setup  

When you click the Choose button for a template, the app will be created and automatically launched into the Express Setup experience. This experience focuses on the four most essential configurations for each app and includes intuitive tool tips to provide more information about the configuration options (Image 9). You’ll notice onboarding tips on the create app landing page and configuration experience to help you better understand the apps and their configuration options. In Step 2 of the express setup, we encourage all app authors to include background information and tips to guide the user experience. 

Image of Express Setup experience for Interactive Legend app
Image 9—Interactive Legend app in Express Setup with tool tip expanded

Build a customized app experience with Full Setup 

With Instant Apps, you can create a unique experience for your audience. You have control over how your users interact with your app and the app’s toolsExpress Setup provides a fast way to configure your app, while Full Setup exposes some additional configuration options that can enhance the user’s interaction with your app.  

Explore and Navigate, in the Interactivity settings, include powerful settings through the full setup that allow you, the app author, to focus your user experience on the location of your data. All map-based apps include the option to configure a navigation boundary, which allows you to restrict map navigation to a particular region and zoom scale (Image 10). You can also choose to rotate the map or prevent users from rotating the map to maintain focus on key map areas.  

Image of Navigation Boundary options available with Instant Apps
Image 10—Navigation boundary settings allow app authors to set an area and scale in which app users can navigate

Another helpful setting available in the Full Setup experience is the Position Manager under Theme & Layout settings (Image 11). This allows you to move common tools like zoom controls, search, and home buttons to their respective locations in the app to create a custom and intuitive experience for your map. The last step is to publish your app and share it with your audience.

Image of Position Manager options available in Full Setup
Image 11-Position Manager allows app authors to change the location of tools in the app

Share an app that is accessible for everyone in your audience 

Apps created with Instant Apps are designed to be shared with any audience. The apps are developed to detect the locale settings configured in the browser and to translate all text to the appropriate language. All apps are designed responsively to be used in browsers on desktops, mobile phones, and tabletsThe apps have been developed with support for keyboardonly navigation and screen reading software.  

Instant Apps offer the ease of fast, intuitive creation workflows along with the flexibility to build a custom app that is designed to be shared with all audiences. Try out any of our Instant Apps: 3D ViewerAttachment ViewerCategory Gallery, Countdown, Imagery ViewerInteractive LegendMedia MapMinimalistNearbyPortfolioand Zone Lookup. Share your work on Esri Community to show others what you can do with Instant Apps.  

About the author

Krista McPherson

Krista is a Product Engineer on the Holistic Team who works with ArcGIS Online and configurable apps.

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