Google's interest-focused Discover feed makes mobile web debut
- Google this week added Google Discover, the search giant's scrolling feed of publisher content that first appeared on its Android app, to its mobile website, 9to5Google reported. The redesigned homepage that previously showed not much more than a search box now has cards that highlight articles based on a smartphone user's interests in news, sports, entertainment and search history.
- The cards include a cover image, article title, summary, website name and publication date. The page layout also displays a menu in the upper right corner to hide stories, indicate disinterest in a topic or block the site from appearing again.
- Google Discover is available for all mobile browsers including Chrome and Safari on iOS and Android in the U.S. The search company hasn't yet announced a date for an international rollout, according to The Verge.
The Google homepage, well-known for a sparse layout that spotlights the Google logo search box, is getting one of its most significant revamps intended to make it easier to explore areas of interest. The addition of Google Discover to the search engine's mobile website is the latest step in its evolution to predict what kinds of information users seek and to keep them in the Google ecosystem longer. The service likely will help to drive traffic to publisher websites by showcasing information based on user interests, and prompting them to linger on its homepage longer as they scroll through headlines. The service first debuted two years ago as Google Now, which the company last year replaced with Google Feed and was recently renamed Google Discover. About 800 million people use the service every month, per Google data cited by 9to5Google, pointing to the potential traction from the large group of users engaged in the personalized content on a familiar platform.
Given Google's history of placing ads in search results or YouTube videos, it's very likely the company will someday try to monetize its Discover feature with ad placements.
Google has about 94% of the mobile search engine market share worldwide and a 92% share on all platforms, StatCounter estimates, and faces few threats from other companies like Yahoo, Microsoft and Baidu, which is the leading search service in China's restricted marketplace. Google has considered launching a censored version of its search service to China's massive population, an idea that's made the company a target for criticism from employees and the White House. Baidu last week unveiled a service to translate English into Chinese and German in real time, challenging a rival service from Google, per CNBC, and pointing to the fierce competition that could lay ahead between the two search giants.
The rollout of Discover to the mobile web comes a week after the search giant announced that it had added a visual search service that uses computer vision and artificial intelligence (AI) to identify photos in Google Image Search. Visual search tools can help consumers more easily find products to browse or buy after seeing them in online photos. Image search is becoming more important to Google, which last month expanded its visual search functions with a feature that uses AI to string together images automatically into "stories," the format that Snapchat and Instagram have popularized among social media users. Google's stories first focused on celebrities and athletes whose pictures are popular search topics on its website and mobile app.
As Google celebrates its 20th anniversary, the company is improving its image search features to make them more useful and engaging for mobile-savvy consumers.