Author(s): Raghu Gopal
Google is testing an option to install apps from inside Google search results without having to go via the Play Store. The new feature will only be available via the Google app and not through direct Web searches using google.com, though this could change.
The company is also working to index app content in order to show the results in relevant searches. It's one of several search enhancements in development, aiming to drive more traffic through the search app in what's perhaps a pre-emptive move to avoid network-based ad filtering.
This isn't the first time that Google has allowed users to bypass the Play store to download apps. Google Now on Tap — built into Android 6.0 Marshmallow — can trigger suggestions about apps and actions based on user preferences, scanning the content of the screen and offering links to relevant apps, services, and Web sites.
Google is working hard to deliver the best search results on handsets as competition for the mobile ad dollar hots up. These first steps in machine learning are a sign of the company's intentions for engaging Android users and maintaining its dominance in search.