Google boosts mobile search: Now it surfaces app data and streams apps

Google's new app-indexing push aims to bring content that lives only in apps onto the web.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
From search Google will stream some apps that aren't installed.
Image: Google

Google has taken app-indexing to the next level, not only extending search to the contents of applications but also streaming the apps themselves from search.

Two years after Google started providing 'deep links' to app content in mobile search results, the company has launched the next phase of its plan to bring more content from apps into search.

So far, developers have only been able to implement Google's app indexing in their iOS and Android apps if content within them had a corresponding web page.

With today's changes, Google will start showing content in mobile search results that only lives within apps, for example, apps with content that doesn't have a corresponding web page.

An example of a mobile app that has corresponding web content is Facebook, which earlier this week enabled Google's app indexing. Now Android users can hop from search results of indexed Facebook pages directly to the relevant part of Facebook's app. Other popular apps that are indexed by Google include Airbnb, Instagram and Pinterest.

Under the extended app-indexing service, content from apps such as HotelTonight, which does not have corresponding web content, will also appear in search results. The aim is to make it easier to find information in applications.

Along with this development, Google has kicked off app-streaming from Search, so users can interact with an app that they haven't yet installed. App-streaming will, however, require a decent Wi-Fi connection, according to Google.

"With one tap on a Stream button next to the HotelTonight app result, you'll get a streamed version of the app, so that you can quickly and easily find what you need, and even complete a booking, just as if you were in the app itself. And if you like what you see, installing it is just a click away. This uses a new cloud-based technology that we're currently experimenting with," Google engineering manager Jennifer Lin said.

According to Marketing Land, for now these options will only be available within the Google app on Android 5.0 and Android 6.0 handsets.

Other so-called app-first partners participating at launch include Chimani, Daily Horoscope and New York MTA Subway Map.

According to Lin, Google currently has 100 billion deep links into apps in its index. Also, 40 percent of searches done by Android users surface app content.

Read more about Google mobile search

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