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Google now lets users stream apps before downloads

Google just unveiled technology that allows Android users to stream apps without downloading them first.

The tech giant remains the king of Internet search, but Google faces a problem in the mobile world: apps. Mobile users rely on apps more than the Web, and that means spending less time searching on the mobile Web. Google wants to change that.

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In a post Wednesday on its "Inside Search" blog, Google's engineering manager wrote: "Because we recognize that there's a lot of great content that lives only in apps, starting today, we'll be able to show some 'app-first' content in Search as well. For example, if you need a hotel for your spur-of-the-moment trip to Chicago, search results will now include results from the HotelTonight app."

An employee demonstrates a Motorola Moto E android smartphone in the Lenovo Group Ltd. pavilion at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images
An employee demonstrates a Motorola Moto E android smartphone in the Lenovo Group Ltd. pavilion at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the service acts like a streaming interactive video, which requires a strong Wi-Fi connection.

The "app-first" service works for a handful of companies, such as Hotel Tonight, Chimani, Daily Horoscope or the New York MTA Subway Map.