People discover a lot of new information using Google Search, but it's not necessarily where they go to get their news.
Google wants to change that. On Wednesday, the Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) - Get Report unit introduced an overhaul of its search app on mobile phones to include a tailored feed of articles and videos on news, sports, weather and other topics. Google Feed uses your search history and machine learning algorithms to serve up personalized content. Starting today, the feed can be accessed using the Pixel smartphone or on the Google app (both Android and iOS), Google said in a blog post.
Google said it will bring the feed to web browsers, but it didn't say when. It's also likely that Google will bring advertisements to the feed at some point.
The feed is strikingly similar to Facebook Inc.'s (FB) - Get Report News Feed, which allows people to browse posts from friends, family and other users. The News Feed has become a seminal part of the Facebook experience, and is largely the reason why almost half of U.S. adults consume their news on Facebook, according to the Pew Research Center.
Facebook's News Feed feature.
But Google says it's not trying to go after Facebook's News Feed. The tech giant is adamant that Google Feed isn't meant to be social like the News Feed. Where the News Feed serves up links posted by a users' friends, Google suggests content based on your search history, as well as your activity across other Google products like Gmail, YouTube, Calendar, Google Home and Chromecast. Users can also customize and control their feed by clicking the "Follow" button next to some search results.
"This feed is really about your interests and what you are doing," said Ben Gomes, vice president of search engineering at Google, at a press event with reporters. "It's not really about what your friends are interested in."
Google also has a feature that addresses fake news -- a big concern that's come up with its search algorithm and Facebook's News Feed. On some articles, users can "fact check" and view related articles from different outlets to "get a more holistic understanding" about a topic. Earlier this year, Google started pushing articles from fact-checking organizations PolitiFact and Snopes higher in its search results as a means of combating misinformation.
Ultimately, the feed should cause users to spend more time on the Google Search platform, but it seems unlikely that the product will result in a major disruption of Facebook's core user base. The social media giant now boasts more than 2 billion users, many of which spend at least 35 minutes per day on the platform, according to marketing research firm Mediakix.
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