The Mountain View company wants to become your key source of news
Google is quietly rolling out an improved version of its news stream for Android and iOS, absorbing Google Now into something simply called ‘the feed’. Following the lack of success seen by the Google+ social media site, the company is having another crack at finding a place on the smartphone next to your Facebook and Twitter apps.
The new feature doesn’t come as a new app, however. Rather, it’ll live inside the Google app most Android smartphones already have pre-installed.
Shashi Thakur, vice president of engineering at Google said: “You’ll see cards with things like sports highlights, top news, engaging videos, new music, stories to read and more. And now, your feed will not only be based on your interactions with Google, but also factor in what’s trending in your area and around the world.”
Does anyone have time for more social media?
One of the key points to consider is that the feed isn’t social at all. There’s no space for friends or followers here. The news you’re delivered won’t all necessarily be brand new, either. Google has the ability to delve into the news archives to recover things you might have missed the first time round. Which could be seen as both good and bad...
For example, if you’re interested in a band, but you didn’t know about them when they released their debut album last year, Google can recover news and reviews from a back catalogue. The thought process being that the service is more about relevance, instead of the latest information. Although there’s some sense in that, we assume it’ll be a turn-off for some news junkies.
Further to that point, the reason Twitter and Facebook work so well, is that you get recommendations on news based on the things your friends are reading and talking about. You make time for the topics your friends recommend, because you trust them and you share common interests. Whereas Google’s feed will be totally tailored to you, without any friend or follower-influence.
Another talking topic will be the lack of video. Nothing auto-plays in the app, which seems odd, given Google owns the largest video-hosting site on the internet, YouTube. When you do see video content, you’ll not be able to watch it within the app, instead being taken to the YouTube app.
It’s not a huge inconvenience, but it does slow down the rhythm of speed browsing we’ve all quickly become accustomed to.
We’d be interested to hear your thoughts about Google’s feed. Is it going to find pride of place on your homescreen next to your other social media apps, or is it going to be Google+ take-two? Let us know what you think in the comments below.