A Visual Way To Search Google News. They Called It Flipper. Now It's Google Fast Flip.

flipper_box_250Back in June, we broke the news that Google was working on a new visual way to display Google News then called “Flipper.” Today, at the TechCrunch50 conference, Google’s Marissa Mayer formally launched the product now known as Google Fast Flip.

As we wrote previously, the service puts a new face on Google News. Imagine going to a newsstand and looking at all the magazines lined up, only here, it’s screenshots of actual articles. And while the thumbnails are small initially, you can click to zoom in on any of them and actually see how it looks on the actual page. Obviously, you can click-through to read the entire article on its actual site.

The name “Fast Flip” comes from the idea that with this visual look, you can easily flip through the news. If you find an article you like that looks interesting, you click through to read it, if not, just flip left or right to go to another. And it is fast. Really fast.

If you do like an article, there is a “like” button, similar to that functionality on FriendFeed and Facebook (the smiley face is built into the logo). You can also easily email any article to a friend. Obviously, as this is Google, there is also search functionality built into Fast Flip.

One interesting aspect of this is that it’s likely to reward sites and authors that use good visuals (which I’d like to think I do) in their stories. Also, the more you use Google Fast Flip, the smarter it will get to things you like.

Not all publishers will like the idea of Google doing this, as news companies such as the AP love to complain about the amount of content that can be legally shown as an excerpt in places like Google News. These Fast Flip thumbnails show much more content than a regular Google News search result excerpt, but only pages from publishers who opt into this service will be shown. And those publishers will get a share of the revenues from ads shown beside their content on Fast Flip. TechCrunch is an initial partner as are others like BusinessWeek, The New York Times, and US Weekly, among others.

There is also an iPhone-optimized interface for Google Fast Flip.

Google was nice enough to point out our initial scoop of this news today at the TechCrunch50 conference. Interestingly enough, “flipper” is still in their Google Labs URL. And you’ll also notice the “Google confidential!” in the image below.


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