When mobile users now look up terms on their Android phone or tablet, the search returns will--in addition to all the bounty of info on the web--include links directly to content to in-app content. So why is this important?
What this means for you--Android device owner--basically is that the apps on your phone are now searchable. You may never need to access a "webpage" on your device ever again.
The direct-to-app links appear when Android users look up terms through Google Search, Google Now, or Chrome apps. For example, if you were to search "The Hunger Games," in addition to all the normal Panem-related hoopla around the web, users will also find links that would send them directly to the Hunger Games entry on their IMDB or Flixster apps.
Users must be signed into their Google accounts so the search knows what apps are on the device.
Currently the feature only works with a handful of apps: AllTrails, Allthecooks, Beautylish, Etsy, Expedia, Flixster, Healthtap, IMDB, Moviefone, Newegg, OpenTable, Trulia, and Wikipedia. We can expect more apps to be included moving forward as Mountain View has opened app-indexing functionality to developers.
A quick run though finds that the in-app search functionality doesn't work as perfectly as it should.
For example, when I did an Android search for "George Washington," I was offered the IMDB app link to some 2000 film called George Washington.
Sounds good. But while the search returned a link to George's online Wikipedia entry, it did not return a direct link to the George Washington entry in the Wikipedia app.
This isn't so much of a problem because as the technology stands right now, it would probably be quicker to access that info through Wiki's web interface rather than the app, but the option should be there.
Now is the web dead?
This is a small update, but an important one. Users will have the ability to remain in their phone's ecosystem instead of bouncing between the web and app worlds. It is no longer necessary to search for a term online and then search again to access an app's functionality.
For example a hungry person might ask Google Now for nearby culinary choices. They will now be able to directly jump into the OpenTable app's functionality to make a reservation and get directions. (Or, as more apps make their content searchable, users will have a choice of apps to access.) The important takeaway is that no second in-app search is necessary.
The end result is a more seamless, user-friendly experience that brings search into apps.
Back in 2010, Wired ran a cover story, which boldly declared "The Web Is Dead." The basic premise was that as we transition to the mobile, cloistered app-based ecosystem, Internetters would no longer bother with the webpage-based world.
As the app ecosystem continues to evolve in ever more web-like ways such as search, the humble HTML webpage may find its days numbered.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.