Users who have navigated to the Google homepage on their mobile device recently may have noticed something a little different. Traditionally, Google’s front page displayed just the company’s logo with a simple search box on mobile devices. Now, however, a feed of news items and other topics can be found underneath the search box. What’s the reason behind this change?
The answer is pretty simple: Google is trying to provide users with better-organized information and additional context for key content. As announced on September 24th to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of the search engine giant, this push is reflected in several areas of Google. However, the change to Google Feed–now rebranded as Google Discover–is likely one of the
most noticeable for mobile users.
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Why the Change?
Google’s goal is to give each user the news and information they’re most likely to want to find out about, depending on their past behavior, device information, location settings and history, search and browsing history, and more. The idea is that users who are avid Jets fans would no longer need to type a search query into the search box to find out the results of last night’s game; the score would be displayed right there for them to see without searching.
However, Google Discover is not simply a news feed. Relevant news stories can be included in the feed, but the changes are designed to include less recent information that’s still relevant to a user’s online behavior. Users are also given the ability to tweak what they see. There’s a slider in the lower-left corner that is designed to let users change how heavy their feed will feature particular news items. It is possible to follow particular topics as well, and indicate how much on that topic should be shown in the Discover feed. Google Discover is designed to be personalized out-of-the-box, however, with entertainment, sports and other news stories promoted depending on the user’s interactions with them.
Of course, as with any new feature that Google introduces, not all users are going to be thrilled with this change. For now, at least, there is a way to turn it off. Simply head to the settings options on the menu bar, then click on Discover. Checking “Don’t show on homepage” will intuitively remove the Google Discover feed from the Google mobile homepage. The steps to turn off Discover in the Google app are similarly easy and straightforward.
These changes come after Google announced that Google Feed could claim 800 million active monthly users with increasing traffic directed towards third-party publishers, signaling that these updates and enhancements could help drive this third-party activity even further.