Update: Google has discontinued news-reading tool Fast Flip.
What’s the first thought that comes to your mind when you hear “˜Fast Flip’? Something about speed or is it something about flipping a page? Google is about fast searches, the flip is what this latest feature from Google Labs is all about.
Google Fast Flip is an online free news reader that’s about reading news online but in newspaper style. One look at the way Google Fast Flip operates and you will get the idea. Google already delivers news content via Google News. With this new Google Labs web application, Google is attempting to promote a different way to read news. Something to which we are more accustomed with our morning brew.
The visual way of reading news is supposed to be free news reader with a more intuitive and faster experience. A news portal loads elements like images, videos, podcasts and Flash ads. This slows down content delivery when all we want is just scan the headlines and move on to a news snippet of interest. Google Fast Flip tries to speed up this process by giving a way to “˜flip through’ pages in the manner of a newspaper without any time lags.
A Free News Reader That Combines the Best of Both Worlds
The official Google Blog says Fast Flip is a new reading experience that combines the best elements of print and online articles.
In simple terms, Fast Flip is a cool visual way to flip through newspaper articles of the day. Readers can search for news content (searching after all is what’s Google all about!). The news content is brought to readers by a small galaxy (39 so far) of Google’s news partners. Most of them are media big leaguers like Washington Post, BBC News, New York Times, Newsweek, TechCrunch, Billboard, Esquire et.al. So at least content-wise, coverage spans across all categories from politics to sports.
The Google Fast Flip news reader page is arranged around four “˜views’. Think of it as “˜tags’ to access the news you want. Each shows thumbnails of the posts and clicking over the thumbnail loads a screenshot of the entire article. The thumbnail snapshots of the dynamic news content can be horizontally scrolled with left- and right-arrow keys.
- Popular is what’s hot and breaking. Follow what’s being recommended or most viewed across the news world.
- Sections are more like pages of specific news subjects like politics, world news, US news, sci-tech, sports, health, travel etc.
- Topics are just that, a subject matter that’s being discussed like Iran or Obama.
- Sources are the snapshots of news aggregated from the news/magazine websites.
These four can be arranged in any order by clicking upward and downward pointing little arrows.
According the Google Blog, a mobile version of the Fast Flip free news reader, with tactile page flipping for Android-powered devices and the iPhone, is also accessible at the same address.
Through this latest web application, Google is harping on the unexpected nature of news browsing. A serendipitous experience also plugged by a good word from friends and other members of the community. The stories can be shared by emailing it or clicking a Like It button that’s a public vote for a news item. Fast Flip users who are signed in to their Google Account can see which stories friends in their Gmail contact list have recommended.
Will it work?
This is still an experimental feature. At first glance, it doesn’t appear as trendsetting, an adjective Google is known for. Behind the faÃ§ade, it is a news aggregator. That’s a corner populated by many others. To read the entire article or linked pieces one has to ultimately visit the source site. The snapshots are previews after all.
But yes, the “˜flow of news’ is very silken and to Google’s credit almost magazine-like. The browsing style sounds more of a fit for mobile devices. It’s an experimental feature, so if the flip way catches on we can expect improvements fast from Google.
Google Fast Flip is a slightly different way to read news. We all have our ways to do that offline and so it will be in the online world too. Give us your opinion.
Try the experimental.
Image Credit: Danard Vincente