Google’s App Streaming: game changer for mobile search

Google announced a new experimental feature which has the potential to make mobile search more useful. The feature allows Android users to stream app content without actually downloading the apps.

The company has partnered with a select set of brands to allow all of their app content to be searchable and “streamable”. The brands include Daily Horoscope, Hotel Tonight and New York Subway among others. So when someone searches for “Hotels in Chicago,” Google will now be able to pull app-only content from HotelTonight. Such streaming requires the user to access the content through a strong wifi network.

This seems to be an extension of Google’s efforts to acknowledge the changing user habits when it comes to mobile search. Native apps have increasingly become the port of call when it comes to search on smartphone. A travel app maybe used to search air fares or an e-commerce app for shopping. In such cases, users bypass the traditional ‘Google search’. While more than half of Google’s search queries come from mobile, people spend most of their time on smartphones within specific apps.

Google has been making efforts to get app developers to index their content so that they show up on search through deep linking. With app streaming, a user need not have the partner app installed on the phone. A user will not be limited to the mobile-friendly version of a service’s website, which could lack features or suffer in terms of responsive design. A user will now get the full experience of an their app, without concern of having the app or the space to fit it in on the smartphone.

App streaming involves a handful of partners now and requires good bandwidth for usage – factors which may limit its adoption for now. But in the years to come it has the potential to offer a new search experience for users and more exposure to developers for their apps.

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