Tailored for news junkies • Fast as lightning • even video • Offline reading lets you take the news with you
It could be overwhelming for casual readers • The interface may be difficult to naviagte
If you're serious about news, Google News is one of the most comprehensive news apps you can find.
Remember when news apps used to be great? Seriously, there was a time when independent news applications were not only plentiful, they were preferred by technology and media circles.
At some point, platforms and media companies inherited and swallowed most of the good ones. Since then, they've let us rely on the biggest platforms to get news. There are exceptions, of course, but it is no coincidence that the death of the independent news application coincided with the growing dominance of Twitter, Flipboard, Apple News and, yes, Facebook.
However, Google fits all this, it was something like a question mark until recently. Although Google News is very popular in desktop computers, its application has been felt as a late (and somewhat clumsy) occurrence.
That changed earlier this month when the company announced it would launch a new Google News application for iOS and Android.
News with a dash of AI
Like all recent Google products, the company infused some of its artificial intelligence fits Google News, although it is not obvious from the first glance.
The application, which connects to your Google account, is divided into four main sections: For you, Headlines, Favorites and Newstand. There is a bit of overlap between the four, but they all have a slightly different purpose.
"For you" is where you can find a personalized feed adapted to your interests. Headlines is more a general description, where you can search for news in different categories, such as United States, World, Business, Sports, etc. Favorites is where you can find shortcuts to topics that you have chosen to follow, either specific stories (for example: Midterm Elections in the US), Locations or publications. Finally, Kiosko is a sequence of links to specific publications organized by interests.
But what stood out the most when I started using the Google News application is how much is there. If you are one of those who likes to immerse yourself in story after story, you will definitely not be disappointed by the amount of options in the application.
If all that sounds a bit overwhelming, then you'll appreciate adding an additional layer of intelligence. This is most evident in the "For you" section, which presents a quick snapshot of all the latest stories that probably matter to you based on your habits and interests. (You can also provide comments on the application with more detailed controls like "more stories like this one.)
I have not used Google News long enough to really judge whether the new customization features are all that Google claims, but what I've already seen that it's promising.
Other features are just convenient.The search function of the application, for example, allows you to search for broad themes and specific editors, but you can also use it to follow larger stories, such as " Russian interference in the 2016 elections "or" Fulfillment to GDPR. "
But my favorite feature could be just the ability to download large amounts of news to read offline. Simply press the "download" button from any topic and the application will make all the stories of that particular transmission available offline.
Filtering the filter bubbles
But one of the most interesting feature of the new Google News is something called "full coverage". It's about helping to get those annoying filter bubbles out, full coverage is meant to show "a complete picture of how that story is reported from a variety of sources."
The function appears along with some stories in the News application, indicated by a "see full coverage" button or simply an icon with colorful rectangles Taking advantage of the "full coverage" appears a flow of stories about the same subject from different publications. Scroll down enough and also incorporate relevant tweets and "opinion" coverage, in addition to direct news.
Depending on the story, full coverage may include a handful of stories or more than a hundred. The feature does not appear for all the stories that appear in Google News, but it does so impressively. A story about the closing of the restaurants of the famous chef Mario Batali in Las Vegas threw links from 18 different sources, for example.
For Google, however, the goal of full coverage is much more than a simple aggregation. It's supposed to be a kind of antidote to our self-imposed echo cameras. By avoiding any kind of personalization in favor of "trusted news sources" only, Google expects the function to provide people with the tools to have "a productive conversation or debate".
It is an interesting approach on a thorny issue with which other platforms, especially Facebook, have had problems: is it better to serve the things that people want to read or what is true? Google has clearly fallen on the side of the latter.
This is not a completely new approach either. Although Facebook has been desperate to avoid this type of judgment calls, so that it is not labeled as a media company, other news applications routinely make these kinds of decisions about which sources they choose to make more prominent.
However, as far as Google News is concerned, I am skeptical that these efforts do much to lift people out of their comfort zones. Hardcore news addicts will love the show, as it allows them to obsess over the stories that matter to them.
But how much more casual readers will want to spend on a certain story once they have satiated? a single source?
And maybe that's not Google's responsibility. No technological company can solve the problem of media literacy overnight. But, if you want to stay informed about the world, the Google News app is without a doubt a great place to start.