Google has quietly delivered two significant changes to the way Google News works, one in the backend and one in the frontend, with the latter being the more significant for publishers.
The first was rolled out last week and sees Google using Googlebot as its primary user-agent for Google news rather than Googlebot-news, a move that has very few implications for publishers but which may allow Google to make more effective use of its infrastructure.
Vanessa Fox from SearchEngineLand says however, that things will become more confusing if you're using data to analyse how a news website is crawled and making subsequent adjustments.
The other change is the way Google News now displays news items globally. Rather than displaying all news as topic clusters, only the top one actually opens up (check below) while hovering on the other news links brings up a down-arrow which reveals a news topic cluster as well as more sharing features (by default, Google only shows +1 plus Facebook and Twitter when hovered over).
Google news now also displays "highly cited", "in depth" news, a slew of pictures and related topics for each news topic clusters. The resulting effect is that there's now more white space than ever before which is both a good thing and a bad thing. The update makes Google news an easier read in portrait mode and with a low resolution screen.