Google is making its flagship search product more personal with a revised feed that the company launched today. The updated feed — a lineup of cards personalized to each user’s interests — will first appear on iOS and Android, before expanding to other platforms.
Users’ feeds are based on each person’s use of Google services. The factors that affect what content is shown in a feed include users’ search histories, YouTube watching habits, and activities in Chrome. In addition, users can choose to follow topics that they care about, like Labradoodles, health care policy, professional cycling, and more.
The cards will provide users with information on things like upcoming movies they’re interested in, pairing trailers on YouTube with plot synopses and profiles of the actors involved. If there’s a nearby trending news story, Google might make that available in users’ feeds and provide them with a selection of articles designed to offer different perspectives on a single event.
It’s also now designed to find older content a user hasn’t seen and present that when relevant. For example, if someone is learning about a city like Seattle for the first time, the feed may showcase older content that’s new to them.
All in all, the changes are supposed to add up to a new experience that can help people find information about their interests without requiring them to sift through the content available on the web.
Google’s feed isn’t a replacement for content from social media, like Facebook’s News Feed. For example, it doesn’t include information that users’ friends are interested in. However, it is a way for people to stay up to date on what matters to them without having to search, and it can surface content users might not have been able to find otherwise.
It’s a revision of Google Now, the company’s foray into predictively providing users with information that they care about. However, unlike the first iteration of Now, the new feed is focused only on providing search content that users care about. (Information about flight statuses, package tracking, and other details is available in a separate feed, also inside the Google search app.)
Right now, the new feed is available to users in the U.S. who are using the Google app for iOS and Android in English, as well as users of the Pixel phone who are in that same group. The feature is expected to roll out internationally in the coming weeks.
Google expects to make the feed available in other contexts after that, though the company didn’t provide a timeline for when that would take place.
As for the elephant in the room, Google wouldn’t rule out advertising in the feed in the future, but representatives for the company also said that they’re most focused on polishing the system before considering any promotion.