Smartphones have revolutionized how we browse the web, but most browsing still happens within the same web browsers we have all grown accustomed to. For the most part, we do our searches and actual browsing from Chrome, Safari, or Firefox, while we limit our apps to games, reading the news, or taking care of business. But, that all could change in the near future.
Google announced late last week that they would begin allowing Android app developers to have their app content indexed. That content will then be able to be opened directly through apps on Android devices. It is a large step towards a more seamless user experience on smartphones and tablets, rather than the disjointed experience we currently enjoy.
Googlebot has been improved to be able to index the content of apps, either through a sitemap file or through Google’s Webmaster Tools, though the feature is currently only in the testing phase. This means the indexing is only currently available to a small selection of developers, and signed-in users won’t begin to see the app content in their result for a few weeks.
The update means that searches will be able to return information from app content, which will then open directly in the intended app. For websites which tend to offer the same content on both their website and their app, such as news sites, it means users will be able to pick their desired experience, whether it be from within the browser or within the app.
Jennifer Slegg reports that app developers can sign up to let Google know they are interested in having their apps indexed by filling out an application of interest. Before you do though, you should know that your app must have deep linking enabled, and you will have to provide Google with information about alternate URLs either within their sitemap or in a link element within the pages of their site.
Indexing is only available for Android apps currently, and Google has yet to comment on when or if they will extend the capability to iPhone or Windows apps.