Google has unveiled another Google labs product called fast flip which aims at making browsing news content much faster and enjoyable by relying on images and snapshots rather than merely blue, underlined texts.
Fast Flip is divided into four categories - popular, sections, topics and source. Currently only a handful of sources have been included; 40 of the most popular sources worldwide with the BBC being the only non-US based website featured.
Google captures images of articles from websites included in this beta and clicking on any images bring up a screen capture of the article. This is the closest we've seen to a physical magazine from Google.
Although you can't copy the text, you will be able to email it to other people and promote it using the "like button". Furthermore, you will be able to read the full story by clicking on the text link on the top left of the page.
A column on the left contains a scrolling list of all the articles under a particular category. Navigating can simply be done thanks to the right and left keyboard arrows.
As expected, the whole process is seamless, as fast as it can get. Fast Flip almost certainly uses a caching system to improve accessibility. This however could impact on download quotas if you are using a mobile broadband account.
The service was presented at the Techcrunch50 conference Fast flip and aims at replicating a magazine's reading experience on the web. Google has judiciously launched a mobile version as well which opens the door for a Kindle-like environment to be rolled out for free.
Krishna Bharat, Distinguished Engineer at Google News, wrote on Google News blog that the service aims at "encouraging readers to read more news" in order to help the publishing industry.
We really love Fast Flip and we reckon that it may improve read rates a lot. However, our fear is that it will only favour a limited number of news outlets as you can only display a few stories/websites even on a 22-inch model like mine ( I can see 21 stories) and probably around twice that amount in Google News (traditional).
(The Media Blog)