Google’s news feed feature and its challenges

After having waited for a long time, Google has finally announced changes to its search product. The major change being announced is that Google is improving its news feed. It is the list of items appearing beneath the search bar in the Google mobile app and when one swipes left from the home screen on Android. As recently announced by Google at a press event in San Francisco, this feature will now be seen on the Google homepage on all mobile browsers – as ‘Discover’.

What is ‘Discover’ all about?

The main objective of the ‘Discover’ option is to show more relevant content. This will be done by providing links related to the topic that the user is seeing in their feed which will give a deeper insight about that specific topic. A slider is present on the lower-left corner of each card which allows the user to either increase or decrease the amount of feed they see. Presently, majority of the feed is personalized and entertainment and other news items are prioritized based upon the user’s interactions.

This new feature is beneficial as it will help the users to understand the context better, and will help in improved organization of the information. The user may get English as well as Spanish items in their feed, as Discover supports multilingual items. Google is working on supporting more languages.

News Feed

Additional changes made to Google:

Google also has a new format called ‘Stories’, which is based on the Google AMP standard. Additional visuals are added to the search due to the use of computer vision. The stories will be seen as ‘featured videos’ which show salient sections from different videos. Along with this, the stories will also be seen inline in search. According to Google, Stories in search are going to be doubled down. This indicates that more stories would be seen in the forthcoming months. These stories will also appear in the Google news feed on the mobile search page. The Google News app has been newly re-launched. However, the news feed is also available within the Google’s mobile app. Most of the additional features seem to be inspired by the redesigned Google news app.

Challenges faced by Google news feed on mobile app:

The news feed and stories features will probably attract more traffic from Google’s algorithmic feed and new sites. Even though the Google news feed is driven by algorithms which may repeat the same mistakes as Facebook, it is not fundamentally social.

As stated by Google, their news feed is ones’ personal Google, due to which it becomes difficult to identify when any false information is presented on the search page. Facebook’s news feed is challenging to replicate, however the individual stories have likes and share metrics displayed on them. But in the case of Google, one cannot measure what exactly is going on with the Google news feed.

The problem with advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence is that the reason behind what the computer does is not always understandable. Google’s news feed doesn’t have the risk of viral spreading of false information. However, if any problem is caused, one may never know about it and Google may never know why this happened.

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Vaibhav Tyagi

Vaibhav Tyagi

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