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Google Fast Flip, in all its glory
We take a look at the latest news aggregator effort from Google

Internet king Google is always looking to develop new tools to push its dominance of the search market -- and online advertising dollars.  Google Labs, the experimental cooker at Google, yesterday rolled out a new service titled "Google Fast Flip.  The service offers readers with presumably a quicker way to get their news.

DailyTech went to Google Fast Flip and took it for a spin.  Basically, the site works as a preview engine, publishing articles from several sources as PNG format images, which you can scroll through via arrows on the left and right of the frame.  Like Google News, both top stories and news by categories are offered.

While the service indeed allows for fast reading, it has several major annoyances.  The first is that you have to click a link to get the full story -- the Fast Flip only gives you a page-sized screenshot of the story (how about a scroll option, Google?).  Second, you get less stories than Google News, both in terms of number of articles, and sources (only select partners show up).  Finally, the switch lags just enough that it doesn't really feel "fast" -- something that PC World's David Coursey also notes.

The upsides are that if you just want to scan bits of the story, you can often get the gist of the story from the excerpt, in which case the service could, in theory, speed up your read times.  Another upside is that the ads are relatively unobtrusive, with no ad-words present on the articles we viewed.

Google hopes to gain both advertising money and greater control over advertising content with the new service.  For that reason they're giving their partners -- TechCrunch, The New York Times, Fast Company and Business Week (and others -- 39 in total, with DailyTech not currently being a member) -- a share of the ad revenue from Fast Flip ad clicks.  In this respect, Google is placing itself as the middleman for online news advertising, even more so than with Google News.  This is a deal with the devil, in a sense, for publications as they may gain revenue, but they'll lose control of advertising on at least part of their traffic.

Some aren't very hot on Google Fast Flip.  The aforementioned Mr. Coursey comments, "Google's new Fast Flip news-er interface is a bit of a puzzle. It doesn't seem very fast and also doesn't flip pages, but slides them across the screen...Fast Flip has, for now, limited itself to a fairly narrow set of partner publications. This will suck if Fast Flip becomes the standard Google newsreader and the publications you like aren't included."

At DailyTech we're a bit more reserved about the new service.  While it's no Google News, it does have its strengths.  And it seems unlikely that the Google would kill Google News and replace it with Fast Flip.  Google Fast Flip is a fun toy to try out and see if it helps your news reading -- try it yourself and draw your own conclusions.



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By MatthiasF on 9/16/2009 12:15:38 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with Coursey.

I hate the "flip" interface. It's a pain in the butt to read articles and browse.

They should meld the design with something more traditional, like their search layout.




I think you're missing the point...
By DASQ on 9/16/2009 12:20:34 PM , Rating: 2
It seems to me the purpose of Fast Flip is to quickly rip through a dozen or more front pages from different publications and pick and choose the interesting ones. I think it does it just fine.

I mean it's really a pre-compiled news RSS feed with preview pictures. I like it.




It has potential
By theslug on 9/17/2009 1:32:44 PM , Rating: 2
I think they should have the left and right arrows on both sides of the screen, or at least center them. This would avoid the problem of having to constantly move the mouse cursor back and forth.




Toknews is better
By Newzjunkey on 9/22/2009 1:50:13 AM , Rating: 2
Agree with the comments - fast flip is relatively elegant but it's limits in content and lack of organize UI make it come short of expectations.

Check out: www.toknews.com

It is a new site which solves both of the above... much more content (including all the top sources) and a much more friendly user interface.




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