Google's secret acquisition could be the future of smartphones, and it's not what you'd expect

Google quietly purchased an app streaming startup called Agawi, according to a new report from The Information on Thursday.

There’s no concrete evidence if Google will actually be using Agawi’s technology anytime soon, but it’s a move that not only favours Google’s primary function as an internet search engine, but it also benefits consumers as well.

The ability to stream apps like you would stream music from Spotify means you could opt to buy mobile devices with less storage capacity, which means you wouldn’t necessarily need to drop an extra $US100 or so just to own more apps from the Google Play Store.

Many people buy phones with greater storage capacities to ensure they will have enough room for all their apps — and some apps, particularly games, take up huge amounts of space. “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas,” for example, requires 2.4 GB of storage. But streaming apps rather than storing them could alleviate that pressure, and you could feel more at ease buying the less expensive model with less storage space.

Plus, considering that most people only use four of their apps on a regular basis, there’s really no need for us to keep most of our lesser-used apps stored on our mobile devices.

How many apps you really use on smartphone chartBIIMost people only use four of their apps, anyway.

Storing fewer apps on your device could lead to better battery life, too, as some apps can activate parts of your smartphone like cellular, WiFi, and GPS antennas to refresh and stay updated. So, if you have 30 apps in your phone, and you only use four regularly, 26 of them could be unnecessarily using up your smartphone’s resources.

Smartphones wouldn’t need to feature the fastest, most powerful internal hardware, either, which also tends to drive up costs for consumers. Most of the processing would occur where the app is streaming from, and all you would really need is strong WiFi or cellular signal.

It could be argued that streaming apps would drive your data usage, thus your monthly phone bill, through the roof, as some apps can be quite large and many people use apps outside of WiFi zones — like when they’re in the car or on the go. But it’s possible only parts of an app that you’re using would be streamed, rather than the entire app. It’s the same principle as listening to a single song on Spotify; it doesn’t mean your streaming the rest of the album, too.

The Information’s report also suggested that app streaming would work with free trials, so instead of endlessly streaming a paid app, you would get to try the app for 30 seconds or two minutes to help you decide whether or not you want to pay for the full app to be on your phone.

Samsung flash memory and processorsAPSamsung wouldn’t need to use powerful, yet expensive, internal hardware, as most the work would be done at the app’s source.

Of course, you’d need a quality internet connection for Google’s new service to work optimally. But right now, on many major US carriers, the cellular infrastructure outside of metropolitan areas isn’t reliable enough to accommodate on-demand app streaming. Basically, if your music on Spotify ever randomly stopped playing because you’re in a dead-zone (an area with little or no cell signal), you could expect a similar experience with app streaming.

Indeed, streaming apps in the cloud could greatly benefit consumers, but it would also benefit app developers, too. Instead of searching for specific apps in the app store, we could search for a service, and Google would show results with apps that provide that service, which leads to better app discovery. And since people only use a small number of apps each day, Google’s new service could help more apps get used, or hidden apps get discovered.

For example, rather than searching for Seamless, you could search for “food delivery services,” and Google will show you a list of apps that deliver food. And who knows, perhaps you’d discover a new food delivery service like Caviar that you would never have found if you stuck to Seamless.

A Google-powered app streaming service could be significant for both app makers and consumers, but how soon we can expect to stream all our apps from the cloud is still unclear.

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