The AI-Powered 'Google News' App Wants To Fix 'Play Newsstand' And Journalism

Google News is a news aggregator considered as one of the oldest product from the company that is instantly recognizable, besides its search engine.

The product was built about a year after the 9/11 attack on New York. One of its focus, was to create a better understanding about terrorists that struck the U.S.. Since then, it became one of the most important products of Google.

Millions of people access Google News everyday to see what's happening around them, in the community, or on the other side of the globe. Without much efforts, Google News has become the internet journalism's largest gatekeeper.

And this is why Google wants to improve it to make it even better.


First of all, Google News app is a replacement for the seemingly-abandoned Google Play Newsstand.

It leverages AI to train algorithms comb through complex, fast-breaking news stories and break them down in easy-to-understand manner like chronological timelines, local news aggregation, and stories presented in a developing and evolving sequence.

Then using the huge quantities of behavioral and search data Google has gathered from users, Google News can show the most relevant news.

In the update, when users first open the Google News app, the first five stories in the briefing are custom tailored to the users' personal tastes and interests (For You section). While Google News can create suggestions from the very beginning users start using the app, the AI will improve over time.

So if there is a news source that users tend to avoid, Google will see the person to be not particularly interested on that source. Or if users visit specific posts more often, Google will show more posts related to those posts in the future.

Second is aesthetic.

Google has also refreshed the visual appearance to put a greater emphasis on images and videos. In the updated design, pictures are made bigger and bolder, and allow readers to easily engage with stories.

Another thing that Google News is introducing, is called Newscast. The feature is somehow similar to Twitter's Moment, which allows users to explore a particular story or event by just swiping through coverage and commentary. There is also Full Coverage which goes much deeper than just simple exploration of a story.

Then there is “Headlines,” which is a mix of news from multiple sources around the world, like: "World," "Business,” "Tech" and so forth.

There’s also a favorites section for starring topics across entertainment, news, and academia. This section provides a Pocket-style read-later feature. It also saves reading location and text-based searches.

The last section, is the Newsstand. This allows users to subscribe to news organizations that either offer a monthly subscription for web/print access, or charge a monthly fee to bypass a web paywall.


Ultimately the one thing that Google wants, is to give news organizations and publishers the readers and subscribers they need. Google News here enables subscribers to paywalled news site, to pay straight from the app.

The biggest pain of purchasing something from paywalled sites, is to create and manage subscription, and log in to the site multiple times if using multiple devices.

With Google News, users don’t have to type in their credit card number each time they want to purchase something, as Google will take the payment on the news site’s behalf. And if signed into Google, they'll be automatically signed into the paywalled news site.

This should address the two main issues regarding paywalled contents. This is Google's hope to make people more willing to pay for journalism.

Further reading: Helping Publishers Facing Ad Blockers, Google Brings 'Funding Choices' To More Countries