Developing for Android and other mobile platforms can be an exciting career, but building a successful app is harder than it seems. With hundreds of thousands of apps available on the Play Store, your offering is likely to be swept under countless others, meaning all your hard work is going unnoticed. Google has been working on technology to help make relevant apps more accessible to users. Like it does with web pages, the search giant is now indexing mobile apps and displaying them on search pages alongside its traditional results.
Android apps have been indexed through a method called "deep linking" since 2013. With Apple's recent launch of iOS 9, iPhone apps are available for Google indexing as well. The benefit of mobile app indexing is that Google is able to show its search users content from not only web pages but also from dedicated apps available on Android and iOS. Additionally, Google provides a download link for each app, which means that apps can now be discovered via Google search. The Google Play Store and Apple App Store are no longer the only means by which to find the app users need. Since any search over the Internet can now yield mobile app results, Android and iOS developers are sure to reach a wider audience. Ultimately, this feature is able to increase the chances a developer's app will be found amongst a sea of applications. In the event a user already has a relevant app installed, Google will provide detailed information from within the app, along with a link to open that app directly.
The reason Google is able to index apps is because "the app is a specialized browser designed just for browsing our content, and we need to have the fallback of it working on the mobile web as well," said Will Critchlow of Distilled, an online marketing firm. Critchlow is imagining a technology beyond what Google is currently offering, which he explains is a universal URL. Basically, a universal URL is a link that will open in any environment whether you're browsing the internet or passing through an app. Universal URLs will save developers time and money because the ability to work anywhere will eliminate the need to continually update apps for a number of platforms. However, for now, app indexing is providing a new way for apps and the traditional browser to interact seamlessly. Google's intervention is benefitting both developers and your everyday Internet user, especially in today's era where you're sure to find an app for almost any need.