Google adds news features

Two innovations from Google on news. Fastflip allows you to scan and flip through pages of news rapidly. Spotlight highlights news articles of longer-term significance.

Fastflip deals with one of the difficulties of reading news online, the tyranny of clicking through to a story then clicking back. But it may be about more than just ease of use, says Silicon Valley Insider. It may be aimed at helping Google deal with competition. “What’s the point of Google’s new FastFlip reader? Not to change the way you read news on the Web — it’s too ugly and simplistic for that. But because it loads pages very fast — and requires minimal effort to navigate — it could be useful for portable devices. Specifically, tablet-like gadgets with 3G modems that could compete with Amazon’s Kindle.”

Spotlight is one of a series of attempts to cut throught he news fog and isolate pieces that might repay a longer read. “Judging by the story selection and a brief explanation by Google, the Spotlight shines on longer features that have bounced around blogs for a few days,” says Nieman Journalism Labs. “Lifestyle and opinion pieces do particularly well, and The New York Times is a frequent source.”

Both are new ways of presenting, finding, organizing news and should make journalists think about how people use news and the internet – on computers, on mobiles.

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