With accusations of fake news flying around like mosquitos on a hot, humid southeast U.S. evening and social media platforms constantly rolling out pronouncements on how they are going to address the issue, Google has decided to update their Google News platform to try to help users sort through everything rolling their way. A new update for the desktop website gets a fresh new look that leans heavily on some Material Design cues like the use of cards and incorporates some changes to content and features to give users a “renewed focus on facts, diverse perspectives, and more control.”
The first and most obvious change that users will see when visiting the new desktop web site is the new interface designed to be easier to read. One change is the use of a card format for articles that Google says will make it “easier to browse, scan and identify related articles about a story.” Users will also find that Google added a customizable navigation column with sections the user can select. Some of the information on the results has changed like the addition of article labels and publisher names getting more focus.
Users may also notice the navigation scheme has been tweaked to include a new navigation bar with options for “Headlines,” “Local,” and “For You.” The Local and For You tabs can be customized with any locations selected for the Local tab, though it defaults to where it thinks you are located, and interests for the For You tab. In some testing, the For You tab appears to only be able to use search terms for which Google is already generating results. Otherwise, you have to setup a custom search to be included in the side navigation pane.
When it comes to the content of the information being presented, Google has decided to wade into the issues related to identifying reliable news sources. One way this is done is by presenting several additional options that Google says will present different points of view. Many of these may be labeled with tags like Local Source, Most Referenced, Opinion or Fact Check. Google says the feedback they have received regarding these labels is that users like them and the additional context provided.
Along with the page full of summaries of articles, users will find a link to fuller coverage of a topic. This additional page provides many more stories from a variety of perspectives. Users can also sort the results by relevance or date, see top videos, or browse other top news topics in a “Related” block on the page.
U.S. users will get a feature specific to the market in the form of a dedicated Fact Check block. Google notes that last year they added a Fact Check label to articles. The new block now shows the top fact check articles that have been recently published.
Some of the other improvements include a new algorithm for identifying top videos along with inclusion in a story card and a new video player. The settings for Google News have also been modified to put them all in one place and do things like providing your own names for sections (this is not working for me) and identifying news sources you want to see more or less of.
Google says the update is rolling out to users around the globe over the new few days. If you want to see if you have it already for your account, just head on over to news.google.com.