In the latest version of Chrome for Android, which is currently sitting at Chrome for Android beta 43, users will now have the ability to install native apps from install banner ads placed inside of web pages in the Chrome for Android browser. When users visit a website that has a native android app available through the Play Store, after a couple of visits Chrome will show a banner ad which prompts the user to install a native Android app for the service or website. This will allow users to avoid using web applications on Android’s version of Chrome if a native app is available, although adding shortcuts to the homescreen which lead to web apps will still be an open option for anyone who wishes to use them.
Google reportedly only prompts users with install banner ads if they’ve visited a particular site a minimum of twice within a two week time frame, so users won’t have to worry about seeing these banner ads constantly if they only visit a certain site a couple of times a month or less. This will help Google determine whether or not users will likely want to install associated applications. It’s a nice touch for users who are frequently visiting websites to get access to web apps via their mobile devices, especially if they’re unaware any native apps for the service they’re already using exist.
While this could help to increase exposure for developers on their native apps for the Android platform, Google states that developers have little control over the nature of the banners. There is no ability for developers to monitor when any users actually hit the install button on the banner, and if users dismiss the ad developers aren’t able to initiate a replacement on the website for that unique visitor. Developers are also prohibited from dictating when banner ads pop up and when they don’t, which is likely to keep developers from bombarding users with banner ad popups. Based on the GIF image below which is an example of what the banner ads for installs look like, they don’t seem to be intrusive at all so even when they do show up users shouldn’t have difficulty getting around them as they can simply “x'” them and they disappear. Having these in place definitely has the potential to be much easier than users visiting a website which may have a native app only to back out and go search for it directly in the Play Store.