Google News undergoes revamp, allows access to paywalled websites from any device

Google has unveiled its newly revamped news offering, providing access to paid content on any device and artificial intelligence to organise the ‘flow of information’.

The new updates, which were announced overnight at the Google I/O’18 Keynote, will roll out globally over the next week.

Google: It is a challenging time for the news industry

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said it was the responsibility of Google to provide consumers with news and information.

“It is a challenging time for the news industry. Recently we launched the Google News Initiative and we committed $300m over the next three years,” Pichai said at the keynote.

“We want to work with organisations and journalists to help develop innovative products and programs that help the industry. We have also had a product here for a long time, Google News. It was actually built after 9/11, it was a 30% project by one of our engineers who wanted to see news from a variety of sources to better understand what happened.

“People turn to Google in times of need and we have a responsibility to provide that information. This is why we have reimagined our news product.”

One of the changes announced by the tech giant was access to paid content on all platforms and devices by using payment information registered with Google.

Trystan Upstill, Google News engineering and product lead, said this meant no more forms, credit card numbers or passwords.

“And soon, thanks to the new Subscribe with Google platform [launched as a part of the Google News Initiative], you’ll get access to your paid content everywhere—on all platforms and devices, on Google News, Google Search, and on publishers’ own websites,” Upstill said.

As part of the update, Google News will also use artificial intelligence to organise news stories in real time and created ‘storylines’.

Upstill added a new ‘For You’ section would also be available, with a five story briefing organise by Google News each day, with a mix of headlines, local news and developments on topics a consumer is interested in.

“The reimagined Google News uses a new set of AI techniques to take a constant flow of information as it hits the web, analyse it in real time and organise it into storylines,” Upstill wrote.

“We’ve also built easy-to-use and easy-to-access controls so you can decide if you want to see more or less of a topic or publisher.”

The new app will also include visual formats, known as newscasts, using images and videos from YouTube and the internet. A ‘Full Coverage’ feature will also be installed, with a complete view of how a story is being reported from various sources.

“Here, the latest developments in natural language understanding bring together a collection of articles, videos and quotes on a single topic. Newscasts make it easy to dive right into perspectives to learn more about a story—plus, it’s easy to read on your phone,” Upstill said.


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