Google has announced an overhaul of its search app on mobile phones to include a personalised feed of links about hobbies, travel, sports and other topics, a move that puts the search company into more direct competition with social networks such as Facebook.
The company said it was not trying to mimic Facebook, however. “This feed is really about your interests … it’s not really about what your friends are interested in,” said Ben Gomes, a Google vice president for engineering.
Google Feed will suggest links based on a user’s Google search history as well as data from other Google services, such as YouTube, Gmail and Google Calendar. Typical updates might include a link to a website with tips about an upcoming holiday location, or a link to a page about cycling or another hobby.
Facebook and Google are vying for attention online and, by extension, for advertising revenue. The two companies are expected to take in around 50% of overall online ad spending in 2018, according to research firm eMarketer. But Gomes said there were no immediate plans to include advertising in Google Feed.
TechCrunch says: “The feed is all about taking your actions across [parent company] Alphabet properties and condensing them into a feed of what’s on your mind while bringing suggestions for how to build on those interests”.
Mashable observes: “If that sounds familiar, that’s because the concept of a personalised feed to accompany search isn’t entirely new. The search giant has tinkered with various versions of a feed for years — most notably with Google Now, which created a similar interest-based feed as well as proactive suggestions based on what was in your inbox or on your calendar”.
Engadget notes: “Google’s feed is highly tailored, highly customisable and is defined entirely by your interests and what you search for. This stands in contrast to Facebook’s News Feed, which relies mostly on your social graph, the people you know and whether or not a story has high engagement (aka what’s popular). And while Google didn’t say it explicitly, the appearance of the ‘Fact Check’ box on hot-button topics is clearly a way the company is addressing the increasing criticism against fake news”.