Google Fast Flip breathes new life into old news

Google Fast Flip

I honestly can’t remember the last time I bought a periodical. I’ve never had newspapers delivered to my house. I don’t have any magazine subscriptions. I completely avoid the local news. But I am a news hound, and I check multiple sites daily, even when their format isn’t great. For me, the appeal of online media is the ability to browse multiple publications from a variety of perspectives and draw my own conclusions. I need to be informed.

However, the system isn’t perfect. Sometimes finding news is just plain time-consuming, not to mention overwhelming. Search accuracy varies from publication to publication when you’re looking for something specific, and with graphic-rich sites there can be real issues when it comes to load times.

But there is a new option for those of us looking for a quicker, more efficient way of getting our news online.

Google Fast Flip, available today from Google Labs, is a different take on online news media. It’s like a news buffet from all across the web, easily searchable and customizable, with super fast load times. From the Official Google Blog:

What we need instead is a way to flip through articles really fast without unnatural delays, just as we can in print. The flow should feel seamless and let you rapidly flip forward to the content you like, without the constant wait for things to load. Imagine taking 10 seconds to turn the page of a print magazine!

Now, for a person like me, this is extremely appealing. I don’t have to miss out on format and style, which is the drawback of many news readers, and I can narrow or widen my search as much as I want. With abilities to look by subject, by popularity, and by publication, it does look quite promising. Not to mention, the list of publishers already involved is rather impressive. A total of three dozen are involved, including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Washington Post, Salon, Fast Company, ProPublica and Newsweek.

It functions like a huge newspaper or magazine, with a variety of sections. One click and you’re face-to-face with dozens of front pages, and you can browse through at a remarkable pace. Even cooler? There are versions for both Android and iPhone devices, giving mobile news viewing a serious edge.

Google’s stance on the plight of the publishing industry is a bit amusing, considering their role on digitizing everything and anything, but I think it sumsĀ  up the situation rather well:

The publishing industry faces many challenges today, and there is no magic bullet. However, we believe that encouraging readers to read more news is a necessary part of the solution. We think Fast Flip could be one way to help, and we’re looking to find other ways to help as well in the near future.

So far, my only concern is that it’s so radically different–especially when compared to a reader–that users might feel a little overwhelmed. What do you think? Have you taken Google Fast Flip for a spin?

[Google Fast Flip]