Advances to Google Search for Mobile
December 7, 2015
Google Search plans a couple of changes to the way it works on our mobile devices. TechCrunch tells us, “Google Search Now Surfaces App-Only Content, Streams Apps from the Cloud When Not Installed on Your Phone.” We are reminded that Google has been indexing apps for a couple of years now, as a hedge against losing ground as computing shifts away from the desktop. Now, apps that do not mirror their content on the web can be indexed. Writer Sarah Perez explains:
“To make this possible, developers only have to implement Google’s app indexing API, as before, which helps Google to understand what a page is about and how often it’s used. It has also scaled its ranking algorithm to incorporate app content. (Google had actually been ranking in-app content prior to this, but now it no longer requires apps to have related websites.)”
Also, mobile users will reportedly be able to stream apps from the cloud if they do not have them installed. Though convenient for the rest of us, this advance could pose a problem for app developers; Perez observes:
“After all, if their app’s most valuable information is just a Google search away, what motive would a user have to actually install their app on their phone? Users would have to decide if they plan on using the app frequently enough that having the native counterpart would be an advantage. Or the app would have to offer something Google couldn’t provide, like offline access to content perhaps.“
It will be interesting to see what gimmicks developers come up with to keep the downloads going. The tech behind this service came from startup Agawi, which Google acquired in 2014. The streaming option is not expected to be released far and wide right away, however; apparently Google views it as an “experiment,” and wants to see how it is received before offering it worldwide. They couldn’t be concerned about developer backlash, could they?
Cynthia Murrell, December 7, 2015