Mas­ter Google News

MICHAEL SI­MON shows how to take con­trol of your feed

Android Advisor - - Contents -

It’s been nearly five years since Google shut down its Reader ser­vice, and we still haven’t got­ten over it. We’ve tried our share of re­place­ments – Feedly, Inore­ader, NewBlur, and so on – but be­tween sub­scrip­tion fees, cross-plat­form com­pat­i­bil­ity, and in­ter­face oddities, we’ve yet to find any­thing that com­pletely fills the void Reader left in our feeds.

But Google hasn’t given up on or­ga­nized, per­son­al­ized news feeds. Quite the con­trary: After tak­ing sev­eral swings with ser­vices such as Google+,

Google Now, and News and Weather, Google un­veiled at its I/O de­vel­oper con­fer­ence in May a brand-new Google News app, with a uni­form ex­pe­ri­ence across An­droid, iOS, and the web, a new phi­los­o­phy, and a com­pletely re­designed in­ter­face.

The new Google News isn’t quite a res­ur­rec­tion of Reader. But with a sim­pli­fied in­ter­face and a nice com­bi­na­tion of per­son­al­iza­tion and AI, it com­prises a lot of what we loved about Google’s orig­i­nal RSS ser­vice. Once you mas­ter it, it just might help you get over the loss of Reader:

1. Get to know the in­ter­face

The new Google News app is de­cep­tively ro­bust. Open the app and you’ll be pre­sented with four tabs: For You, Head­lines, Favourites, and News­stand. For You is essen­tially an AI-pow­ered col­lec­tion of sto­ries based on the data Google has col­lected (such as

search trends and lo­ca­tion). Head­lines is a col­lec­tion of the big­gest sto­ries of the day di­vided into top­ics (US, World, Tech­nol­ogy, Sports, and so on), and are the same for all users and plat­forms. Favourites is the clos­est to Google Reader, col­lect­ing the sources, top­ics, and ar­ti­cles you’ve saved. And fi­nally, News­stand is where you can find any mag­a­zines you’ve sub­scribed to.

Be­yond the tabs, when you tap your user icon in the top right cor­ner of the app, you can see your no­ti­fi­ca­tion his­tory and shar­ing ac­tiv­ity, and also find set­tings. Lots of cool menus and ac­tions in Google News make it more than just a sim­ple news ag­gre­ga­tor. For ex­am­ple, you can tap the coloured News icon be­low a story to can see the full cov­er­age page, or tap the weather icon to get a seven-day fore­cast.

2. Use the search bar

Like Google Reader, Google News works best when you tell it what you like. To do that you’ll need to get friendly with the search bar. You can find it in the top cor­ner of every screen (or at the top of the web page). Tap it without typ­ing and you’ll see a list of sug­gested top­ics and sources. You can se­lect any of them to fol­low.

If you’re look­ing for a spe­cific source, you can type that query into the search field and tap the Fol­low but­ton that ap­pears next to it. Re­peat as nec­es­sary. Any source you fol­low will then ap­pear as a pub­li­ca­tion on your Favourites page, which will dis­play a chrono­log­i­cal feed of ev­ery­thing that site

has pub­lished. There’s no limit on the num­ber of sources you can fol­low, so go crazy.

If you want to search a topic rather than a source, such as Google or iPhone, you can opt to save those for fu­ture ref­er­ence as well. Just like with sources, you can fol­low as many top­ics as you’d like, and Google News will ag­gre­gate all the news about it that it can find. Top­ics will ap­pear on your Favourites page just like sources. You can also search for spe­cific ar­ti­cle URLs. Be­cause saved top­ics and sources are synced across all of your de­vices and the web, you’ll be able to keep track of sto­ries from your phone.

3. Save and share

Next to each story you’ll see an over­flow menu at the far right (or a hover menu on the web) that con­tains links for shar­ing and sav­ing. Tap Share to send it to an app or a con­tact, or copy the link

in­side the app. On the web you can copy the link or send it to Google+, Face­book, or Twit­ter. If you just want to save it for your own use, you can tap the book­mark icon and it’ll be added to your ar­ti­cle list on your Favourites page. Be­cause Google News is al­ways chrono­log­i­cal and there’s no ‘read’ or ‘un­read’ mark­ings, it can be hard to keep track of every story you want to read. Sav­ing for later is a great way to make sure you re­mem­ber them.

4. Teach it what you like to read

Google Reader was great for or­ga­niz­ing, but it wasn’t so good at dis­cov­er­ing new sources of in­for­ma­tion. Google News does both. Think of the The For You sec­tion like a Pan­dora sta­tion for news: It’ll show you ar­ti­cles re­lated to things you like, and the more you use it the more per­sonal it’ll get. But you can also give it a lit­tle help. In­side the over­flow menu be­low every

story you’ll see op­tions for ‘More sto­ries like this’ and ‘Fewer sto­ries like this’, as well as ‘Hide sto­ries’ from the source it’s com­ing from. The more you use these but­tons the more Google News will fil­ter out the con­tent you don’t want.

Here’s a tip: If you ever want to see one of the sources you’ve hid­den, you can find them all un­der the Hid­den in For you tab in Set­tings.

5. Per­son­al­ize the look

While you won’t be able to match Google Reader’s iconic in­box-style list of sto­ries, Google of­fers a fair amount of cus­tomiza­tion over what you see and how you see it. In­side Set­tings, you’ll see a Turn on mini cards tog­gle. Flip it and you’ll see a cou­ple of ad­di­tional sto­ries on the main page about each topic rather than just one, sav­ing you a trip into the Full cov­er­age screen. If your Favourites page

gets un­wieldy, you can al­ways move a topic to the end or the be­gin­ning of the list, or stop fol­low­ing it al­to­gether. You can also turn off au­to­play videos in set­tings, and choose to add any of your saved sources or top­ics to the home screen for easy ac­cess.

6. Cus­tom­ize your no­ti­fi­ca­tions

Be­cause you don’t al­ways have time to check Google News dili­gently through­out the day, it can send you up­dates on break­ing news, pop­u­lar top­ics, and your in­ter­ests. But it’s not an all-or-noth­ing op­tion. In­side the app’s set­tings you can cus­tom­ize your alerts so you’re not pep­pered with sto­ries all day long.

If you only want sto­ries about the sources and top­ics your fol­low, turn off all tog­gles ex­cept Your in­ter­ests. You can also ad­just the fre­quency of no­ti­fi­ca­tions from low to stan­dard to high, with a cou­ple of steps in be­tween. Gen­er­ally, the stan­dard

set­ting will send five to seven per day, while high could be as many as a dozen. When I slid the bar down to low, I got only a cou­ple each day. You can also turn on daily brief­ing alerts and break­ing news. If you miss any, check your no­ti­fi­ca­tion his­tory in Ac­tiv­ity by tap­ping your user icon.

7. Save sto­ries for off­line read­ing

Google News re­lies on an In­ter­net con­nec­tion to keep ev­ery­thing cur­rent. If you’re go­ing to be on a plane or without ac­cess to a strong con­nec­tion, you can down­load any of your favourite top­ics or sources for off­line read­ing. Head over to the Favourites tab, tap on the over­flow menu in the top right of any of the icons, and choose Down­load. A tiny down­load ar­row will ap­pear, and when it’s done down­load­ing (after a cou­ple sec­onds) an ar­row will show that Google News has saved all of the sto­ries in­side for off­line read­ing.

Use the search bar

Save and share

Teach it what you like to read

Per­son­al­ize the look

Cus­tom­ize your no­ti­fi­ca­tions

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