But Google over the past year or so has gotten serious about getting more apps in front of more users, particularly in search results - which remains Google's bread and butter. App indexing - wherein Google actually sorts through the content of an app so it can present it back to users in any number of ways - is the key to all this. You can open a traditional web search result directly into an app. And later Google would show a button that take you to the Play Store to install the app.
And now Google has cut out the middleman - for some of us, at least - by skipping the step of opening the Google Play Store app before installing. Technically speaking, that's probably not a huge leap. And, frankly, it's not as big a deal as headlines are making it seem.
Installing applications is just one of the many things where Android outshines iOS. For instance, it's 2016, and you still can't install applications from the App Store web listing to your iPhone or iPad. I spend most of my computing time on my desktop computer, and I've lost count of how many times I came across an interesting iOS application, only to realise that the only way to actually install on my iPhone was to actually get my iPhone, which could be anywhere in the house, open the App Store, search for the application, hopefully actually find it (search in the App Store is dreadfully bad), and then install it, all the while hoping the App Store app won't soil its undies halfway through.
For Android applications, I just click install on the Play Store web listing, and I'm done. It's one of those niceties that companies that understand web services can do properly without much effort. And it seems like Google is taking all this a step further now, allowing you to install stuff straight from Google Search
Meanwhile, the iOS App Store application is so unreliable and terrible, it needs a hidden "tap ten times to reload" shortcut.