Google News App Hands-on: Why It Beats Apple News

I've always considered Google one of the best ways to find news, and its latest app might be its best yet.

That's because the newly relaunched Google News (which landed on the iOS App Store yesterday, May 15, and has been available on Google Play) combines user-focused curated content and stuff from outside your bubble, and it introduces a new way to see a story from a ton of angles.

The app's first tab, For You, leverages how well Google knows us, and presents stories it thinks we'll want to read. Driven by a combination of artificial intelligence and machine learning, this tab starts with a "briefing" (5 stories relevant to your interests), as well as local news and a weather forecast.

Google News did a fantastic job of surfacing stories I wanted to read, presenting recent, relevant articles on the topics that matter the most to me. That meant it took no time at all to get caught up on politics, tech and pro wrestling.

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While browsing through the Headlines section (which isn't as catered to my interests), I saw a headline about North Korea threatening to cancel its summit with President Trump, which featured a "View Full Coverage" button.

Clicking on that Full Coverage button showed me my favorite feature of the app. Not only is Google News collecting and curating related articles and news clips, but it also presents relevant tweets and a chronological timeline of articles to provide an at-a-glance view of how a story evolves.

If you're concerned about being tricked by Fake News, Google says its Full Coverage section will avoid this by presenting "an unpersonalized view of events from a range of trusted news sources." One thing this app is missing, though, is a way for users to flag stories as suspicious or untrustworthy.

If you pay for a periodical or publication, such as the Washington Post, you can sign into your account in Google News, so you don't get cut off after 3 articles.

I'd be remiss if I didn't compare the new Google News app to Apple News, the major competitor on iOS. I'm much more apt to use Google News because it shares articles using their original addresses, not one that uses the Apple.news URL scheme. Yes, Apple's links redirect to those original sites, but those on Androids and PCs may not realize that and not click on those links, thinking it's not for them.

Also, I prefer how Google News is laid out. Breaking the news out into two sections: For You and Headlines — the latter isn't customized for the user — feels like a good way for readers to know where to find a less-tailored experience.

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Over on Apple News, you get For You and Spotlight, where the latter looks to replicate a glossy, print periodical with its striking design, but the Spotlight branding doesn't really tell me much about what it's showing, only when you get inside and see the line "from the Apple News Editors" do you learn that this section contains articles that Apple's team is highlighting.

At SXSW, Apple senior VP Eddy Cue explained how the company wants to offer a similar way of surfacing stories you may not have read, but I think its app could still benefit from a little more work.

Google News places your saved articles list in the Favorites section, and places the Search button in the top left corner. This gives Google enough space for the Newsstand tab, where you can search by publication, which are presented as big, colorful tiles.

Do you remember Google Now? How Google used to present sports scores and news that it felt represented your interests? That's exactly what this feels like, but under a different banner, one that I actually might use.

While it's no Google Reader (please, bring RSS-driven reading back, Google!) I've got to applaud Google for how this app presents the news. In this day and age where people silo themselves in news echo chambers, this app provides a ton of angles on stories, to help us become more informed on the topics at hand.

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