Google Fast Flip built for mobile

Google Fast Flip interface for mobile.

Google Fast Flip interface for mobile.

So this is it.

In April, Sharon Waxman reported a conversation with Google CEO Eric Schmidt in which he told her:

“In about six months, the company will roll out a system that will bring high-quality news content to users without them actively looking for it” … one in which users “will be automatically served the kind of news that interests them” … and which Google “will be able to sell premium ads against premium content.”

Google Fast Flip appears to be all that.

The company claims the visual news finding tool “personalizes the experience for you, by taking cues from selections you make to show you more content from sources, topics and journalists that you seem to like.”

Make no mistake — this is an application built from the ground up for mobile. (In addition to being available in Google Labs on the web, Google offers it as a mobile site for iPhone and Android devices.)

Reading stories from multiple sources isn’t easy to do on a mobile device right now. Neither is search. Done right, personalized, visual news could truly be a killer app.

As Scott Karp says, it’s “a new UI (user interface) for news.” Further, it’s Google re-asserting its claim to the browser, not the app, as the viewing space for mobile content.

Martin Nisenholtz, senior vice president of digital operations at the New York Times told Ken Doctor, “We’re trying to find out how users relate to a visual interface.” There’s certainly much to learn — and there are quirks with Fast Flip. But, the interface, with a firm nod to Apple’s Cover-Flow, is an excellent fit for mobile devices.

That’s great for consumers. And, as Nisenholtz points out, it’s the brand presence news publishers have wanted. But it also gives Google the upper hand in yet another news viewing space.


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