Google has begun experimenting with a new way to make its mobile search more useful.
The company has recruited a select group of apps to allow all of their content to be searchable and “streamable” when people Google something on their smartphone.
For example, if you search for “Hotels in Chicago,” Google will now be able to pull app-only content from HotelTonight. Previously, Google could only show information from apps that had matching web content.
And not only that, but you’ll also be able to “stream” that content, allowing you to access it without downloading the app. In the case of HotelTonight, you’d be able to find a hotel and book it, without downloading the actual app, which previously wasn’t possible.
Here’s how that process would look:
This is an extension of Google’s efforts to convince app makers to “index” their content to allow it to be searchable by its algorithms in a process called “deep linking.”
If they don’t, Google’s mobile searches are much less useful (which could ultimately leads to fewer ad dollars from smartphone searches). So far, more than 1,000 apps — including Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram — have created more than 100 billion deep links.
But the latest feature takes it a step further, by showing app-only content in search results and letting users view the info in their mobile browser without downloading the app — a move that Google hopes will help its search engine remain users’ main gateway to online content in the era of smartphones.
Google has got nine apps on board initially: Hotel Tonight, Weather, Chimani, Gormey, My Horoscope, Visual Anatomy Free, Useful Knots, Daily Horoscope, and New York Subway.
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