Streaming virtual apps come to Google Search results

Google’s built its empire on its ability to connect users with the information they’re looking for, and even in these days of Android, smartwatches, and self-driving cars, search is still the core of the company’s business. But over the years the internet’s content has been moving away form purely web-based homes to turning up in apps themselves – and Google’s had to keep up with that change in order for its search results to stay relevant. A couple years back we saw Google Search start delivering links that pointed within apps, and now the company’s taking that one step further, bringing users search results that include app-exclusive content – and introducing an innovative way to make those results accessible to users everywhere.

It used to be that those links to in-app content would only show up if that content was also available elsewhere on the web. For instance, a search might give you a Yelp result that gave you the ability to pull things up directly in the Yelp app, but that’s only because Google spotted that info on the Yelp website first. Now Google Search will also pull info from app databases that don’t have their own websites – services like the smartphone-only HotelTonight.

But what if you don’t have HotelTonight on your phone? Do you have to pull up the Play Store, download, then install the app before you can see what Google Search found for you?

Google’s introducing a streaming feature that will allow users to check out in-app search results without having the actual app present on their devices. Instead, Google Search live streams a virtual app window right to your phone’s screen. You can interact with it just like you would a local app, only the whole thing’s conducted over a streaming video link to Google’s servers.

That both gives users quick access to the content they’re looking for and helps promote new apps – maybe if you like what you see when streaming, you’ll follow up by downloading the app itself.

Right now only a few apps will support such streaming, but Google intends to see that number grow. Streaming is also Android-only, and you’ll need a fast WiFi connection to take advantage of it.

Source: Google, The Wall Street Journal

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About The Author
Stephen Schenck
Stephen has been writing about electronics since 2008, which only serves to frustrate him that he waited so long to combine his love of gadgets and his degree in writing. In his spare time, he collects console and arcade game hardware, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and enjoys trapping blue crabs. Stephen's first mobile device was a 624 MHz Dell Axim X30, which he's convinced is still a viable platform. Stephen longs for a market where phones are sold independently of service, and bandwidth is cheap and plentiful; he's not holding his breath. In the meantime, he devours smartphone news and tries to sort out the juicy bits Read more about Stephen Schenck!