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Google Wants You To Spend A Lot More Time In Its App

Google's "feed" will now have trending news topics, a follow button, and more machine learning integration.

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Google is making some changes to Android and its iOS app today that will make it look a lot more like Facebook's News Feed.

In Google's iOS app, you'll see the updates in its feed, which appears just below the search bar:

If you have Android, you'll see these changes in the feed that pops up when you click on the Google Search bar.

(And if you have one of Google's Pixel phones, you'll see them when you swipe left from your home screen.)

Google debuted the feed in December 2016, and now it's updating it with trending news topics, a follow button, and more machine learning integration.

Google's feed will still be based on your search history, but there will be a new button to follow "movies, sports teams, your favorite bands or music artists, famous people, and more" that you're interested in. The feed will also adapt to your behavior across all the Google app, according to Google, to "reflect your interest level in a topic".

The feed will surface "content that's most relevant to you," according to Google, and that may not always be the newest content. For example, during the press conference, one Google product manager demonstrated that her feed brought up an article about photography in Japan written in early 2016 because she was about to take a trip there.

Google didn't explain how the search engine determines whether you're seriously or casually interested in something, attributing it to "an algorithmic decision." The algorithm also pulls from all the Google apps you use, like Gmail, YouTube, and Calendar.

"Google should be working in the background, even when you're not searching," Gomes said, "to further your interests and turn your queries into actual knowledge."

How is this different from your Facebook feed? "It's about what you're interested in, not what your friends are," Gomes said.

Google is rolling out these updates in the US in English today for iOS and Android. They'll roll out globally in a few weeks, the company said. Google declined to comment on whether there would be ads in the feed in the future.

Google's algorithm will also recommend links to news articles trending locally and around the world. According to the company, the news will be "from a variety of perspectives."

This feature seems aimed directly at addressing concerns that the search algorithm sometimes highlights misinformation and that fake news may have swayed the 2016 election. You'll also be able to fact-check the content based on Google's own partnerships with fact-checking organizations.

Google said the recommendations were "to help get a more holistic understanding about the topics in your feed." There will also be headers at the top of each card allowing you to search for the topic with a tap.

You won't be able to follow publishers at the rollout though, according to Google, but you can follow individual journalists.

And don't worry, content related to your porn searches won't pop up in your feed.

A Google product manager said the feed is trained to stay away from "sensitive topics" like suicide, illness, or pornography.

Blake Montgomery is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.

Contact Blake Montgomery at blake.montgomery@buzzfeed.com.

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