Google Extends Mobile Dominance with "Streamable" Apps

Everything from pre-ordering your favorite Starbucks drink to trading stocks can be done from the convenience of your mobile phone. The drawback? These apps must be downloaded first, meaning not only the loss of precious memory-space but also time.

Google ‘s new steam-action apps solve this problem. A new type of service that allows people to use apps without ever having to download them, Google spoke of this new stream-action on its official blog last week and demonstrated how the service would work through a video.

How Stream-Action Works

Google makes it possible to let users stream and use apps without ever needing to download them by allowing wi-fi enabled apps  to run remotely on virtual machines through its secure cloud platform. If you need to book a seat at a restaurant, all you would do with the new technology is search the restaurant on Google and the search engine will stream apps with the likes of Yelp or Grubhub for you, making the order that much simpler.

Having the ability to use the app without ever having to install it on your phone is not only convenient but also mitigates the constant clutter of apps that are seldom used. Too many times do consumers download an app for single use or for a test run, only leave it in the dust moments later. With Google’s new app streaming technology, this will never have to be the case again: keep the apps you need, stream the apps you want.

The Technology Behind it

The tech behind this new system is surprising: Google is simply streaming the apps in a video feed from its database. What users are interacting with is not actually the app itself, but a high resolution video feed of the app. By inputting commands, users send orders to a remote computer containing the app, which subsequently replies with whatever the user needs. The technology was acquired by Google from a startup called Agawi, and seems to be paying big dividends for the future of the tech giant.


Since this data is stored remotely, it instantly raises some huge questions for its consumer-friendliness. The lag time between input and response is, for now, a huge weakness as Google starts to implement this new system. Also, this service is available through the Google Search app right now for only some users with the following partners: HotelTonight, Chimani, Daily Horoscope, and New York Subway. Limited indeed, but with Google's near 100 billion links to information from apps and total control of the Android market, it's hard to imagine stream-action apps not expanding and being a huge part of our daily lives in the near future.

Lastly, the remote-connection nature of Google’s new app system dictates that one either has very good Wi-Fi, or extremely powerful data streaming, two things consumers may not always have control over. This would be potentially disheartening for many, as many apps currently function well with just mediocre data connection thanks to the locally stored data. Such a downside may prevent the stream-action apps from succeeding in markets where data is more expensive, or connections may be slower.

Google's new streaming-model may be the single biggest disruption that could come to the way of how apps work today. The apps currently stream-compatible are free or are monetized with in app purchases, making them ideal launch partners, but with the various types of  paid apps available in the market, it may not be so simple. It will be interesting to see how Google tackles these issues in the coming months and how app stores will evolve accordingly.


As for consumers, the new app-streaming model fixes some of the frustrations of mobile search. Before the new stream-action service was released Google could only display search results that also lived in a website. This meant that the searcher missed out on information locked away in an app (like the lowest priced apartment inside the Trulia app for example).

With its new service, Google can now show app-only content in search, and users will be more likely to get better results since it can talk to both the apps and the websites. Additionally, users will not be limited to only finding the mobile-friendly version of a service’s website (although mobile-friendliness still helps with indexing) that could lack key features.

The new app-streaming model will also enable users with feature phones (mostly in third-world countries like India) that can only access a browser but not download apps get in-app experience.

Developers can also benefit from this new  stream-action app model in the immediate future, as the fact that there are so few apps in this new arena would allow a developer of a new app in this category to gain magnified exposure.

The Reason Behind Google’s Experiment

Google hopes that showing app-only content in search results and letting users view the info in their mobile browser without downloading the app will help its search engine remain a user’s main gateway to online content in the era of smartphones.

With recent findings reporting mobile app usage represents 86% of the time spent on mobile, Google wants users to keep searching for "best hotels in Chicago" or "best Nikon cameras" through its engine rather than starting on HotelTonight or Amazon.

While this new experiment by Google may not sound as interesting as self-driving cars, this feature will definitely have an impact on users, developers, the app world, Google, and the future of mobile itself.

Just as Google constantly evolves to make lives more convenient through tech, Lolay also thrives when our experimenting in the ever-changing mobile tech landscape has positive outcomes for clients and users of our apps.

As new ideas flow, Lolay continues to experiment with Virtual Reality, Apple Watch Apps and this new streamable service by Google. Contact us online today or subscribe to our email for exciting updates on our progress or for useful tips on how to stay ahead of the game on everything mobile!