Extra! Extra! Google News Gets Facelift
As reported by Mashable, Google has released an updated version of Google News for English language users in the U.S., and apparently Canada as well. (I am blogging from a Canadian IP, so consider me proof that this applies to Canada.)
Google News asks you, in the most efficient way possible, how often you read a particular category of news (example: Sports). The options are "Always," "Sometimes," and "Never."
In accordance with your preferences, Google News now posts news besides the Top Stories of the day in a single, continuous column, either as a "List" or in "Sections" (World, Sports etc.). The choice is yours. Choosing is easy and is done with one click.
Previously, Google News had two long columns with numerous sections for different kinds of news, creating a virtual wall of text that was imposing to the user. The new format appears to be much more user-friendly, almost like an RSS feed.
Conveniently, the Settings option allows for further customization so that the news you want most always appears on top (of everything beyond Top News, that is).
Recent Events and Going Local
The right-hand column has been overhauled to act as a focal point for breaking news (on top of the column) and, in addition, local content of a less time-sensitive nature. For example, I am treated to news of Queen Elizabeth II's arrival in Halifax, capitol of my native Nova Scotia, on a tour of Canada. This continues Google's trend of prioritizing local content to make Google relevant to travelers while doing nothing to obstruct access to Google's global content.
In my case, I am also treated to a provincial weather forecast (albeit with temperatures in Fahrenheit, not Celsius as used for Canadian weather reports), the latest rankings from the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
My impressions so far are very positive. Google seems to have greatly improved the user experience without sacrificing any content. This is a very Zen attitude: Google News for uncluttered news reading.
Speaking of streamlining, Google News readers are strongly advised to check out "Why is News different?" for a list of key shortcuts for easier, lazier navigation. While not explicitly said, these shortcuts, and the Google News redesign, appear to make the service much more convenient for Android mobile phone users. This would be a wise move as competition with the Apple iPhone 4 intensifies.