I finally had the chance to sit down with Fast Flip, the newest news reader creation by Google, and my feeling after 30 minutes of use was: why? But after another 30 minutes, it turned to: Ooooh, hey!
Google is trying valiantly to release software that will help the news industry, and I have to respect them for such a noble pursuit, but I can exactly understand how Fast Flip does that.
I started browsing on the general view, and ended up skipping over half the articles. That’s easy enough, but I don’t know how you’d keep people’s interest with that view. So I switched to just the view by publication, which was a lot cooler in theory, until I wanted to read more than two paragraphs of an article. I don’t mind being redirected, but why wouldn’t I just read the publication’s website? And if I’m using the mobile version, redirecting is a pain that I think would annoy some users (especially since Safari is one of the iPhone’s worst features).
Browsing by topic is again, nifty, and I suppose it offers me more of a preview of an article than Google news would, but what’s allure of not using Google News? I can hypothesize that you’ll get a wider variety of topics than Google News, which sometimes can narrow our worldview by only showing the top stories. It can also feature enterprise stories that magazine has worked on that will fly under the radar of top story aggregators.
It also has the ability to search on random topics. Some of my suggested topics included “Seattle”, “Japan”, “Beatles”, and “Politics”. It was kind of a different mix.
So overall, it’s mildly cool. The problem with tools like this is they need to be applied correctly in order to flourish. Hopefully Google will expand the number of publications using Fast Flip, and publications will figure out how to promote their Fast Flip presence, or better yet, figure out to make a similar technology for mobile apps of their own. That’d be swell.