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July 1, 2010

More Customizable Google News

After many months of testing, Google News redesigned the homepage and made it more customizable. One of the most important changes is that each group of related news has a topic ("Mobile industry", "Toyota", "Tropical storm Alex") and you can easily subscribe to the topic.

Google News has a new section called "News for you" whose goal is to show news about your interests. You can add custom news topics, select how often you read news about each topic and choose if you want to see the news grouped in sections or as an uninterrupted stream.

If you like some news site or dislike news sources that provide biased or irrelevant news, you can now personalize Google News and list your preferences. Click on "Settings" at the top of the page, select "News settings" and start typing the sites you'd like to see more often or less often in Google News.

"Sources you promote or demote will be ranked differently for you (but not for anyone else) in your Google News search results and in the stories that you browse on the News homepage and other sections. Please keep in mind that demoted sources may not entirely disappear for you in Google News, and promoted sources may not appear in all of the stories you see," mentions Google.

Each news cluster has a small menu that lets you share stories on social sites (Twitter, Facebook, Google Buzz, Google Reader) or by email.

Google News also added keyboard shortcuts that are available in other Google applications like Gmail and Google Reader: j or n (next story), k or p (previous story), / (search), s (star), . or f (share), Enter (open the headline article for the current story). Unfortunately, keyboard shortcuts are an afterthought, so you'll find many flaws: after selecting the "Email" option, you need to use your mouse to click on the "To" field; after opening the main article of a story and going back to Google News, the story is no longer selected.

"The redesigned Google News homepage is rolling out today in the English-language edition in the U.S., and we plan to expand it to all editions in the coming months. We're making the ability to choose which sources you'll see more or less often available in all English-language editions worldwide and plan to expand it soon," explains Google.

Google has a special page that provides more information about the new features and another page that shows you where are the old features and which features are new.

Google News is now more customizable and has a lot of features that should appeal to Google Reader users. You can't subscribe to news sites, but you can subscribe to topics and list your favorite news sites. Google News lets you star and share each story, navigate using keyboard shortcuts and read news recommended for you. Google News has suddenly morphed from a news aggregator into a news reader, from a website to a web application.

{ Thanks, Sterling. }


  1. Hmm, it would be better if there are some of Google Reader features inside it.

  2. So far, all of the Google users seem to hate it. The only people who have commented mildly favorably about it are people who don't use Google News. It's about 100% less convenient and incredibly laborious to use. Google users despised it when it was tested but no one listened to them. I thought Google was better than that. Silly me.

  3. Pam, you are so right. The comments on the test were all negative. If I were an academic researcher I would study why companies with popular sites feel the urge to destroy them. eBay has driven away small sellers, Facebook has made itself into a dangerous neighborhood and now Google keeps forcing unwanted changes on its users. I don't think that brick and mortar businesses have as much of this self-destructive tendency.

  4. My very limited experience (a few minutes last night) with the new site has been positive. I love the new threads on the left, the keyboard shortcuts are welcomed (even if they don't do much), I like having the local news on the right along with the weather, and the new customizations are great.

    What's the hang up, and where are you guys getting this "everyone who tested it hated it," data from?

    And as for forcing unwanted changes, that's kind of how changes work: They're made and then reaction is gauged. This is why Steve Jobs doesn't listen to people until after Apple ships its products. Turns out he's been right on a lot of items (though I'm far from being an Apple fanboy).

  5. I agree, I think the changes are pretty good. I particularly like it that I can set it to automatically give me news and weather for my current location.

    One frustration for me: near the top of the right-hand column, I'm getting a summary of World Cup results. I don't seem to be able to delete this section. I've already removed the sports section, so why is Google News assuming that I'm interested in football? I hope they're not going to do this for other sporting events in the future....

  6. Maybe someone is reading this... The World Cup results box has now disappeared for me.

  7. I changed the reading frequency for "Sports" to "never", then added a new topic "Germany". The top three stories in the "Germany" section that showed up were about sports (soccer) :-(

  8. Who writes comments in this post?.. are you guys the ones who designed the new crap design and now patting your own back in your echo chamber? (remember new COKE)

    Read real comments here

  9. @Anonymous

    Sorry, you can disagree with me, but that doesn't mean my comments aren't "real".

    I use Google News almost daily, and to me the new version really feels like an improvement. I like it that I can now have a brief at-a-glance summary of news headlines from the different places I'm interested in, in the right-hand column.

    I do agree that they shouldn't be trying to publicize this as giving us more personalisation when in some respects it's actually less personalisable. There are also things I would like to change: e.g. I don't see any value in the "recent" section, and the World Cup results box is back this morning...

    I don't know anything about "new COKE" (is that an American thing?). But at the end of the day, Google will only provide this service if it is bringing them the kind of traffic they want, and if the content providers are satisfied. Presumably that's what lies behind these changes.

  10. I used Google News daily too. I would visit upwards of 6 times a day. I do not like the new design at all. I plan find a replacement if they don't offer a way to revert/opt-out.

    It's so much harder to scan the headlines now. It only took me seconds before. Now I have to spend a few minutes hunting through the single center column.

    Plus, the new design leaves me with much less control than before. Take the right sidebar for example; it's full of stuff I don't want, and yet there is no way to delete any of it.

    Overall, I find the new layout frustrating and visually unappealing. It's a no-go for me.

  11. Why do they call it "more customizable"? To me, it's much less so. I want to turn off the Recent, Weather, Spotlight, and Top Stories section. I like soccer, but I already know the schedule or the scores. Let me get rid of that section. And the new column format makes me scroll twice as far as I did before. Get rid of this format, please. I'm not going back.

  12. What everyone Just has to Love is How google just as much as Forces users to use pages that are Terrible that Nobody likes, Why dont they have an option to Use "New" News Page or Remain with the Classic News page now how hard would that be for google ? or they should at Least have an email google link so can at least communicate with them letting them Know of the things users do not like.

  13. @Anonymous (from July 5)

    Google is *not* forcing you to use this service. If you don't like it, don't use it. It's as simple as that.

    Similarly, Google is not obliged to provide services for us that don't suit it's business model.

  14. New format is HORRIBLE!

  15. I used Google News everyday .But I do not like the new layout at all. I can't stand this new look! I have wasted much time looking for something I want while It only took me seconds before. I wish it would go back to the way it used to be.

  16. The new design really sucks.

  17. absolutely beautiful, a one man operation vs. a multi-billion dollar organization, and who loses? Google does, they want even let their internet spokesperson Fred S. come out to explain this epic disaster, and when they do, he fails so utterly miserable. For one you can't explain this disaster and utter failure of a mistake, a redesign that is going backward for User Friendly.

    secondly, maybe Google is not hiding Fred out, maybe Fred is hiding out? because of the sheer uselessness of Google new News format? The lie of personalization is absolutely unbelievable, that the new format can be personalizes, yeah right, and I can fly by just flapping my arms. And I by myself can put humpty dumpty back together again? yeah right. But a one man operation has created something so beautiful that bring back something similar to what Google threw away.

    Fred, you can come out of your hiding spot, we've not going to tar and feather you. What an absolutely epic miserable unbelievable failure, that can't with any truth be explain away. Not with any straight face. is excellent! Well done bmwolgas