Update July 21: Google says it has no plans to change Google.com on the desktop, but could bring news feed elements to its search page on the mobile web later this year.
Here's the company's statement sent to Ars Technica:
"Confirming that later this year, we hope to roll some version of the feed experience to Google.com on the mobile web. However, the design and functionality are still completely unconfirmed as this is still in testing phases.
To be clear, we have no plans for desktop."
So, Google.com on the mobile web looks likely to get elements of the personal feed already present on the mobile app at some point this year, but the classic desktop version of Google will remain intact, at least for the time being.
Original story below...
Google’s homepage on the web – which has pretty much always been a sparse white page with a simple logo and search box – is about to become very different, as the company intends to populate it with a personalised newsfeed, Facebook-style.
The new look is set to replicate the Google mobile app, which witnessed the introduction of such a feed for both news and event (appointments, travel info and so forth) updates at the end of last year.
Indeed, the company announced earlier this week that this system has been refined to become more relevant to the individual (and their locale) via clever machine learning techniques (and the ability to ‘follow’ topics you’re interested in).
- For optimal web browsing, see the best-in-class Dell XPS 13
According to a report in The Guardian, this sort of tailored newsfeed will become a part of Google’s main search page in the ‘near future’.
It’s a bold move for sure, but a lot rests on exactly how this will be implemented on the homepage, and at the moment, Google’s plans aren’t clear. Obviously enough, it’s still likely to focus on the same twin threads of the mobile apps – news and event updates – but how complex the desktop feed might be is anyone’s guess. [Update: Google said in a statement it has no plans to change the desktop version of its search page.]
Getting the right balance
We can only assume (or hope) that Google will want to steer clear of making its search engine look too cluttered, particularly considering the extremely minimalist white page the company has always stuck fast with.
Of course, it may well be the case that you’ll have to log in to your Google account to use the new system, as personalization is the name of the game here, particularly when it comes to elements such as linking in your calendar or Gmail inbox to scrape flight booking details and so forth.
At the moment, however, it’s all up in the air, and as ever we’ll just have to wait and see what the final result is.
There are certainly a few worries on the horizon here, not just about how cluttered this could make the search engine’s page, but also concerns in shadier areas such as how much of the content presented to the user might be ‘sponsored’ material which Google’s coffers will benefit from.
Microsoft will certainly be hopeful that any missteps might push more folks towards its own search engine, because Bing is doing better than you think these days.
- Is it time to make the switch to the Surface Book?