Google has announced a complete revamp of Google News as the company looks to bring together the multitude of ways it delivers news to its users across its range of products. Artificial intelligence will play a big part in personalizing news that’s delivered to your screen.
The reveal was made today at the company’s annual I/O developer conference in Mountain View, California.
While Google has upgraded its News platform numerous times through the years, with this latest effort, personalization, smart delivery, and easier access to publications’ subscriptions play an equally key part.
“We’re using AI to bring forward the best of what journalism has to offer,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said on stage.
All about you
In short, Google will use information that it already knows about you to give you news it thinks you’ll be interested in. It will intelligently read the entire “firehose” of the web, covering articles, podcasts, videos, tweets, and more, infusing it with deeper analysis and features including fact-checking.
“The reimagined Google News uses a new set of AI techniques to take a constant flow of information as it hits the web, analyze it in real time and organize it into storylines,” wrote Trystan Upstill, engineering and product lead, in a blog post. “This approach means Google News understands the people, places and things involved in a story as it evolves, and connects how they relate to one another.”
The revamp represents a total overhaul of the interface, with a new “For You” section serving up tidbits specially for you based on what Google thinks you’ll like, with a starting point of five picks that mix big stories and local news.
Upstill also discussed a new visual layout format for Google News called Newscasts, which uses natural language processing (NLP) to “understand” a range of content from across videos and articles on a single given topic. These stories aren’t captured or categorized by human-generated keywords — Google tries to understand, in real time, what stories are relevant to a topic that interests you by analyzing the content of each piece of media.
Though much of this latest update is centered around summarizing all the stories that Google News thinks you will want, well, summarized, there is a big focus on deeper analysis and seeing the bigger picture. Called Full Coverage, Google News will show stories reported from multiple sources and will include local coverage, videos, FAQs, social media commentary, timeline of events, and even fact-checking from the likes of Snopes.
It’s worth noting here that this isn’t personalized — this will look the same for everyone to avoid the so-called “echo chamber” effect, whereby you’re often served news and perspectives that do nothing to challenge your views.
“Having a productive conversation or debate requires everyone to have access to the same information,” Upstill said. “That’s why content in Full Coverage is the same for everyone — it’s an unpersonalized view of events from a range of trusted news sources.”
Finally, a new Newsstand tab will provide a direct artery into a library of news sources and magazines, with Google making it easier for users to access e-publications with the “Subscribe With Google” platform it announced earlier this year. This is actually a major new feature, as it means that paywalled content that would typically be limited through a publication’s own app, for example, will also show up through Google Search and Google News — but only for you. This also means that the new Google News app will replace the existing Google Play Newsstand app across all platforms.
“You’ll get access to your paid content everywhere — on all platforms and devices, on Google News, Google Search, and on publishers’ own websites,” Upstill said.
The new Google News will be rolling out from today, with all users expected to receive the update globally by next week.