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Google Adds In-App Search Functionality

Gabe Kwakyi | September 1, 2016

Feature image credit: Search Engine Land, Google Inside Search Blog Post

In a recent product update by Google, the search giant has begun providing Google search users with a custom search tab that returns only app results. This feature follows earlier search bar updates such as news, books and flights and promises to improve not only new app discoverability but now also app retention and re-engagement rates by providing a unique tab for people who want to see only app results.

google apps search

Image credit: Google.com

google app search bar

Image credit: Google Inside Search Blog Post

For re-engaging existing users, the feature will work on Android phones by looking through content inside of the apps that the user has installed on their phone and displaying relevant content in the in-app SERP (search engine results page). Google's in-app search functionality will be limited to begin with to Google's own app products, but Google says it will expand this capability to additional apps soon, with the likely goal of adding all apps instrumented with Google's Firebase app indexing after that.

Google's move creates a unique experience based on two key app technology advancements: indexing apps in searches and deep linking to specific content within apps.

With this move, Google sets itself up as a major solution for low retention rates by creating a new pipeline through which users can be returned to an app by searching a query relevant to content inside that app. By contrast, Apple attempted to provide a similar method that included app results in its iPhone spotlight search function, but Apple's indexing method never reached critical mass given the challenges of complex setup for developers and convoluted UI for users (our subjective opinion).

Two factors will make Google's attempt more likely than Apple's spotlight search efforts to catch on and gain critical mass:

a) Google can make tapping into in-app search easy for Firebase apps, AKA will be easy for developers.
b) This is Google's home turf and the search function is baked into the popular Google search bar, yet specifically provides in-app content, AKA will be relevant and useful for users.

Bottom Line: Google's new Android in-app search tab allows users to find content inside of installed apps, starting with Google apps with the likely goal of including all Firebase indexed apps. By providing solutions to key pain points for app developers and marketers, Google will continue to draw more apps onto its products and operating system.

Original Source: Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land