The app streams will appear as blue links like the rest of the results, but they will open to apps, not mobile websites, taking people directly to relevant content — regardless of whether they have the app on their phones or not. The app streams in Google search will offer limited options to start, though, and not the full range of services the complete in-app experience provides. For instance, people can find a hotel on Hotels Tonight but not book it.
Google will eventually develop more robust integrations, but for now, the app stream results are just considered an experiment. So far, only nine apps are participating, including Hotels Tonight, national parks directory Chimani, Weather and the New York Subway system.
The move is just Google’s latest change meant to make search more compatible with mobile devices, where most of people’s time is spent in apps.
Google search became the dominant force on desktop because it was effectively the gateway to the Web — and all sites had to adjust to maintain visibility. Now, however, that same dynamic could play out in the app ecosystem with developers vying for top placement.
“If you’re able to surface some type of content and show what happens inside your app and get that first touch, it is a gigantic step forward,” said Michael Richardson, co-founder and senior director of product at Urban Airship, a mobile marketing firm.
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