17 November 2016

The Keyword: “Introducing a smarter and more beautiful Google Play Newsstand”

Today, we are announcing a complete redesign of Newsstand that focuses on three big improvements: personalization, rich media, and the extension of our platform to the web.

A fully personalized news and magazine reader for you

We are applying the power of Google machine learning to Newsstand’s rich catalog in order to find and recommend the most timely, relevant stories for you based on your individual interests.

Sami Shalabi

If Google is serious about curbing fake news, maybe it should start with its own blogs: the Newsstand web app is only available in Chrome, so the claim available anywhere you want it, including the web is pure bullshit. Maybe the intention is to gradually expand support for other browsers, but why not just say that in the announcement?

Also I love how, with all their fancy machine learning technology, Google still can’t figure out the correct temperature scale to use for local weather. I have to manually select Celsius from the settings – even though I selected this across all other Google apps tied to my account.

Google Play Newsstand desktop briefing header

Another design annoyance for the desktop version is how on my monitor articles loads in a slim column barely one third of the actual width of the screen. It’s an artifact of designing mobile-first, but there is so much wasted space it almost hurts. It’s good that most of the ads and unnecessary side-content are stripped – after all the app is using Google’s AMP format whenever available – but this choice makes the web app look out of place and unpleasant to use – not to mention it’s not responsive.

On the other hand the article recommendations are pretty good from my first impressions. It seems to draw many inputs from my YouTube watch history – I see a lot of headlines about James Arthur for example, whose latest album I listened to a lot lately, and about Civilization VI – I watch many let’s play videos. At some point though I would appreciate some diversity in the articles, something I effortlessly receive on Twitter or Flipboard. I should probably start adding new topics and see how the mix changes.

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