Google today introduced its own take on the News Feed, which will be made available on Android and iOS devices through the Google app. The Feed allows users to get content and news as per their own interests and choosing. “As the late, great Dr Seuss once said, “there is no one alive who is you-er than you.’ At Google, we know this statement is truer than true. Sure, we all have many things in common, but none of us has quite the same mix of passions, interests and goals as the next person,” writes Shashi Thakur, VP of Engineering at Google.
The Feed was first introduced by Google in December last year. Thakur writes that the company has since improved its machine learning algorithms to predict and anticipate what an individual finds interesting. “You’ll see cards with things like sports, highlights, top news, engaging videos, new music, stories to read and more,” Thakur added. The Feed will also factor in what’s trending alongside your own preferences. It’s pretty much a version of Facebook’s News Feed, but with Google’s algorithms and data analysis.
Further, the introduction of The Feed marks the end of the Google Now branding. Updates from Google Now will be found in a separate “Updates” tab from now. Cards from Google Now earlier used to show up directly under the search bar on the Google app. While Facebook, Twitter and pretty much every other kind of news feed algorithm prioritises recent content over others, Google says The Feed aims to work on relevance. So, older articles on a topic can show up, if they match your preferences and if you haven’t already read them.
Personalising The Feed
To personalise your feed, Google is allowing users to follow specific topics right from Search. This essentially allows you to train Google’s algorithms according to your preferences, without actually being in direct contact with them. There’s a stark difference between Google and Facebook’s take on following topics here. The social network also allows you to set priority for certain pages, people and topics, telling its algorithms to prioritise those topics over others on your News Feed. Google, on the other hand, is only using a follow option, which perhaps means priority will be set by Google’s algorithms themselves.
To provide multiple viewpoints on news stories or other topics, Google is going to put content from other sources on top of the cards. You can swipe across these to read multiple stories on the same thing. “And when available, you’ll be able to fact check and see other relevant information to help get a more holistic understanding about topics in your feed,” Thakur wrote.
While The Feed will be available through the Google search app for all Android and iOS phones, it will perhaps be the most useful for Pixel users. On Google’s Pixel devices, the Google app appears as a pull out screen on the home screen itself, making it simpler for users to reach it. That, makes The Feed an easy way for users to get news and information relevant to them.
The Feed is also one of the many machine learning implementations Google has been working with recently. The company has used machine learning algorithms for flagging malicious apps on the Play Store, while Google I/O this year was almost all about AI.