More than four years after the launch of Google Now, the company has fully dissolved its AI assistant into the DNA of many of its core product offerings. Nowhere is this impact more evident than in search, where Google has significantly shaken up its philosophy on what a term like “search” even means when you know so much about users and their interests.
Today, Google is delivering an update to the feed it introduced to its Google app last year, bringing more attention to showcasing the information its knowledge graph has built on users while allowing them to “follow” certain topics and people to shape what they’re seeing as well.
For now, the new and improved feed will live inside the Google app on Android and iOS (as well as in the Pixel Launcher), but soon mobile and desktop web users will begin seeing elements of the newsfeed on the home page.
Yes, the stark Google.com home page will soon be receiving a radical facelift, though there aren’t any details on exactly when this particular rollout will happen. While the home page has long been absent of much besides the company’s logo and an empty text box begging you to search the endless web, by bringing the feed to the homepage on mobile and desktop, the company’s “there when you need it” approach to search may be shifting to allow it to serve users up with something to explore.
When “newsfeed” is uttered, Facebook’s efforts in this area are the immediate afterthought, but this feature isn’t another effort by Google to weasel its social networking aspirations into the search box, the feed is all about taking your actions across Alphabet properties and condensing them into a feed of what’s on your mind while bringing suggestions for how to build on those interests.
A Google calendar event for a flight to London may trigger a card with travel tips or local restaurant recommendations. Sustained YouTube searches for a particular band may bring up a link to their concert schedule the next time they’re in town. Additionally if there’s an author you love and you want to stay up-to-date on their work, you can tap on a follow button in search results and get Google Alerts-esque updates inside your feed down the road. You’ll be able to follow topics like movies, sports teams, bands and more.
Users will be able to unfollow topics to refine what they see and Google details that some topics won’t ever pop up so your frantic searches for the cause of that weird rash won’t result in a new area of interest.
Also of note is the way Google will be using the feed to shape how people absorb news. Instead of just tossing a news article into the feed as a standalone entity, the feed will highlight multiple news sources and fact checks that throw the veracity of information into the forefront of a user’s mind.
The new-and-improved newsfeed is coming to all US users of the Google app today and will be rolling out globally over the next couple weeks.
Featured Image: Jeff Chiu/AP