Mobility

Google's updated feed taps machine learning to show new topics before you search for them

Google's news feed learns from a user's search history and selected topics to provide a personalized way to keep up with topics of interest.

Google has advanced its machine learning algorithm to provide a more personalized news feed to Google Search mobile app users, according to a Wednesday blog post from vice president of engineering Shashi Thakur.

"While we each keep up to date on the things that matter to us in different ways—social media, news apps, talking to friends—it's hard to find one place to stay in the know about exactly what matters to you," Thakur wrote. "Today that's changing."

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Google first unveiled its app's news feed in December, to help users stay on top of news stories that interest them and organize their personal information and schedule. This new update aims to make it "easier than ever to discover, explore and stay connected to what matters to you—even when you don't have a query in mind," Thakur wrote.

In short, the Google Search app will suggest things for you to check out, before you even start typing.

The search giant's machine learning algorithm learns from a user's search history as well as information from Google Maps data, Gmail, and YouTube searches to anticipate topics that are most important to the user, and will display stories or videos by topics on cards. For example, a user might see cards with information such as sports highlights, top news, videos, new music, or articles to read. The feed will also factor in stories that are trending in your local area, and around the world. "The more you use Google, the better your feed will be," Thakur wrote.

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The feed changes based on the user's preferences. For example, Thakur wrote, if your hobby is photography, and you have a casual interest in fitness, your feed will reflect that. Users can also manually follow topics of interest right from Search by clicking a new Follow button next to search results such as movies, sports teams, musicians, or celebrities. It's easy to unfollow a topic as well, Thakur wrote.

Google's feed also aims to offer broader context to the stories that appear by offering multiple viewpoints from a variety of sources, as well as other related articles, according to the post. "And when available, you'll be able to fact check and see other relevant information to help get a more holistic understanding about the topics in your feed," Thakur wrote. It's also easy to search deeper into the topics of interest found in your feed, with one tap opening a Google search.

These updates can make it easier to stay informed about the topics you care about, Thakur wrote. However, it's possible that the feed could potentially be a distraction from the actual search you go to the Google app to complete.

The feed is now available in the Google app for Android and iOS in the US, and will roll out internationally in the coming weeks. Businesses should explore how to better engage with their local communities to become a part of the feed, as it could be another method to potentially gain traffic via Google.

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Image: Google

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

1. Google's updated news feed taps advanced machine learning capabilities to offer users a more personalized experience, according to a Wednesday blog post.

2. The feed determines a user's interests based on their search history and selected preferences, and shows them a variety of stories and videos on those topics.

3. The updates are available in the Google app for Android and iOS in the US, and will roll out internationally soon.

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About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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