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Google says it is improving the way people read news online (what, again?) with the launch of Fast Flip, a service allowing users to flick through articles in the same way as they would with a print newspaper.
Readers can browse through ‘bundles’ of recent news, headlines and popular topics, as well as feeds from three dozen publishers including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Washington Post, Salon, Fast Company, ProPublica and Newsweek.
In essence, Google is offering thumbnails of the first pages of these news sources – readers who click on them are taken direct to the publisher’s actual website. The selection is searchable by topic, and is personalised, taking cues from the reader’s previous selections.
“The flow should feel seamless and let you rapidly flip forward to the content you like, without the constant wait for things to load,” says Krishna Bharat – who delights in the job title ‘distinguished researcher’ – on the company blog. “Imagine taking 10 seconds to turn the page of a print magazine!”
It’s most likely to take off in its mobile version, which offers tactile page flipping for Android devices and the iPhone.
The company’s keen to point out the benefits to publishers, promising to hand over “the majority” of ad revenue to them. “It also tests our theory that being able to read articles faster means people will read more of them, driving more ad revenue to publishers,” says Bharat.
Try it out at http://fastflip.googlelabs.com/.