With rumors continuing to build, despite Google's denials, about the merger of Chrome OS and Android, Google just gave us a taste of how that marriage would work.
In a revamp of its search engine, Google now integrates data from popular apps into its results, whether or not you have the app installed on your phone.
But what if you don't have the app and don't want to install yet another third party app on your phone? That won't be a problem because Google will now let people run apps in their browsers on their phones.
Not all apps will be capable of spilling their contents and running inside a browser at launch. Initially, only nine apps will work with Google's clever way to bridge the Android and Chrome divide. These include Chimani, Daily Horoscope, Gormey, Hotel Tonight, My Horoscope, New York Subway, Useful Knots, Visual Anatomy Free and Weather.
If developers want their apps to be showcased in Google's search results, they'll have to build in code that will work with Google's indexing engine. This allows Google's search engine to have deep links into the app and app content.
Essentially, this allows the apps to "stream" content to the browser, much like how Steam Machine can stream games.
A new business opportunity
At a glance, Google's app streaming technology could mean that fewer users will develop your app. Why download Hotel Tonight if you can get the exact same search content, along with competing results, directly as part of a Google search in the browser?
VentureBeat speculates that mobile developers and marketers have a lot to be excited about with this new technology as it could drive organic growth and app adoption.
"As that happens, app publishers get a chance to create a first impression right inside one of the most popular apps on the planet – the Google search app," the publication said. "Create a great first impression and you have the opportunity to have users fall in love with your offering and download the full app."
Seventy-four percent of downloads happen organically, not through paid ads, and businesses and developers looking to grow their user base could leverage the blurred distinction between the web and apps to attract more users and downloads, if they provide a good first impression.
It's estimated that more than 350 billion app downloads will occur 2020, up from just 2.5 billion in 2009.
It's too soon to tell how Google's rivals will be affected by this new business, and if app developers will reduce their spending on rival platforms, like Facebook ads, if their apps can be showcased on Google search.
- Read our review of Google Apps