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Google News app first impressions: Real-time AI and machine learning for organized stories

Google has fundamentally changed how it wants users to consume news with a more comprehensive coverage using AI and machine learning.

Google News 5.0


  • Google is betting heavily on AI to analyze content

  • Each morning, the app presents the Top 5 stories for you

  • In addition, Google News offers social reactions, video, opinion and analyses for context

Google announced its revamped news app during its ongoing annual developer conference, Google I/O 2018. The revamp marks a radical shift in the design and how the app functions with the introduction of real-time machine learning and artificial intelligence to help users. Google went on to add more details about the changes in the app in a comprehensive post on its blog.

According to the post, the primary reason for these changes in the app is because of the sheer number of news sources available on the internet in diverse formats. Google is betting on artificial intelligence to analyze the content available and bring the best “reporting done by journalists around the globe”. AI organizes the different formats and sources of news to ensure that a comprehensive package is available for the reader to quickly digest with relevant text articles, videos and even tweets in the same app.

Use of AI also helps the app to understand the things, places, and people involved in any particular news story. This allows Google to properly process the information and present a contextual outline of what the main story is about, and articles related to the story that a user may be interested in checking out. I got my hands on the new updated version of the Google News app for Android and installed it on my OnePlus 3. Even before launching the app, there are some changes including the new logo and the name. It is now named as “News” instead of “News and Weather”.

The app presents you with “Top 5 stories right now” as the briefing that one would require in the morning. The top stories are headlines with a “Full Coverage” button towards the lower right bottom of each news story. You are presented with latest updates, and top coverage from different news sources in the full coverage.

The page also includes relevant videos and tweets going down to opinions and analysis for comprehensive coverage of social commentary and timeline of how events unfolded. The last portion of the page is “All coverage” listing all the articles related to the story. All the stories presented here are a mix of “important headlines, local news and the latest developments on the topics” for your interest. According to the blog post, the more you use the app, the better it gets with time.

All this is part of the “For you” tab where AI finds the most relevant news that may be important to you without any configuration or settings. The app has three more tabs in addition that include “Headlines”, “Favourites”, and “Newsstand”. Moving to the “Headlines” section, the app presents somewhat of an infinite vertically scrolling list of articles according to ‘Latest’, ‘World’, ‘Business’, ‘Technology’ and other categories. This section comes with ‘Newscasts’, a new format that looks similar to Snapchat snaps or Instagram stories with images, videos, and tweets related to that news story. Google also uses AI to select one or two sentences as an excerpt so that readers can glance at what the story is about without opening the article.

Moving to the ‘Favourites’ tab, you can select your favorite topics, sources and even save stories to read later. What is interesting here is that you can add keywords or topics such as ‘Google I/O’, ‘Apple’, ‘OnePlus 6’ or any personality such as ‘Sundar Pichai’ to stay updated about all the news related to the particular topic.

Watch: Google Go: All you need to know – English

The last tab in the app is the ‘Newsstand’ with ‘Featured’, and ‘Popular’ sections. Here you can subscribe to your favorite news sources in the field of your choice. The subscription extends to both paid as well as free subscriptions. You don’t have to sign up or create any new account for your subscription as Google manages everything using your Google ID.

You can even select and pay within the app for whatever subscription tiers the news service has to offer. The company announced that with the help of its new ‘Subscribe with Google’ platform, users will be able to get access to their paid platform across devices and platforms including Google Search, Google News, and the publisher websites. Tapping on your picture at the top right corner will give you the option to tweak settings or check your activity including notifications and the articles that you shared.

Google announced that this new version of Google News will replace ‘Google Play Newsstand’ on mobile and desktop and ‘Google News & Weather’ app on mobile. The company has started rolling out the new version starting today and it will be available for all Android, iOS and web users by next week. Check out your Google Play Store app for the update and if you can’t see the update then don’t worry it will arrive soon.

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  • Published Date: May 9, 2018 12:36 PM IST