At the time Google called that app Google Now, but the latest iteration is simply called “the feed”, and Google says it got a major update this week.
The Verge’s Casey Newton reports that the feed showed up in their account this week, and they weren’t impressed.
Google today is rolling out its take on the news feed, a personalized stream of articles, videos, and other content. The feed will appear in its flagship app for Android and iOS, simply called Google. The feed, which includes items drawn from your search history and topics you choose to follow, is designed to turn Google’s app into a destination for browsing as well as search. Google is hoping you’ll begin opening its app the way you do Facebook or Twitter, checking it reflexively throughout the day for quick hits of news and information.
The Google feed came to my account Tuesday afternoon, and I spent a long while scrolling through it. The feed offered up articles on several of my interests: Netflix, Instagram, Game of Thrones, and the video game I’m currently playing (and have watched a bunch of YouTube videos about). The best topic I saw in the feed was “fake news,” and featured an article from Lifehacker on how to spot it.
Scroll far enough and you’ll get a basic, ambient sense of the day’s news. But few of the items I saw compelled me to read the article. Part of what makes Facebook and Twitter’s feeds compelling is the social endorsement that links there carry: you read because your friends tell you to, and you trust your friends. They also give you commentary and analysis around what you’re reading. In short, they feel lively — and the Google feed can feel stale by comparison.
You can read more about the feed in Google’s blog post.
You can find the feed itself in the Google apps for Android and iOS; all I had to do was simply open the app and I was prompted to activate the feed.
I have not.
Google won’t activate the feed so long as I block them from tracking me, and since I will never change that setting I will never be able to use “the feed”.
That’s no big loss; I have a dozen other ways to sift for important stories, including Twitter, Search Alerts, the couple thousand RSS feeds I follow, mailing lists, etc.
Google’s “the feed” is just one more competitor for our limited attention, and it’s not even a very good one. I mean, they’ve been working on this in one form or another for at least four years, and the best they could come up with earned a “meh” response.
You would think Google, with all of its servers, could do better, don’t you?