Google Fast Flip: New Interface is Bad News

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Google's experimental Fast Flip is a new way to consume online news, but not a better one. It falls into the trap of trying to make a computer imitate real-life. Rarely does this have a happy ending.

Fast Flip tries to make online news more like reading a newspaper or magazine, giving users pages to flip or slide through. (See it here).

There are short or truncated headlines and lots of terribly rendered pages in Fast Flip. The user interface is a mess and I found it took longer to access news in Fast Flip than on the regular Google News page.

The experimental newser interface was announced earlier today on Google's corporate blog.

Google News has some issues, but I've grown used to them and today get most of my news from its front page and, to a lesser extent, the section pages a level below. I find Gnews to actually be a very useful news source. There are some changes I would make, but they are mostly below the surface.

Fast Flip bares some resemblance to a news aggregator called AllTop as well as to the new Bing Visual Search. I wonder if it is just randomness that caused Fast Flip to be announced almost simultaneously with Bing's announcement?

Maybe Fast Flip will get better over time, though I am not sure how. The page rendering could certainly be vastly better. But, I would rather see lots of headlines and story leads than page images.

In flipping through Fast Flip, I found the page images actually got in the way more than they helped.

Google has gotten beat up--with some reason--for hastening the demise of print publications, especially newspapers. Google would like to find a way to better cash in on its news franchise, but also realizes a need to do better by the news providers.

Fast Flip, according to Google's blog, is attached to an improved revenue sharing scheme for content providers. It will be interesting to see how this works out and to what extent Google is wedging itself into a revenue stream that should really belong to publishers' alone.

Right now, Fast Flip has little to recommend it, but it shows Google is trying, in its own way, to help undo some of the damage the Internet has done to news organizations.

David Coursey tweets as @techinciter and can be contacted via his Web page.

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