Hands-on: Google News keeps you updated on stories you care about w/ Google’s new Material theme [Video]

Ahead of I/O we caught wind that there was a revamp of Google News incoming, and on stage at the event, the company officially revealed one of the biggest redesigns of the service we’ve seen in its 15-year history. Not only does it deliver a ton of new functionality, but it’s also an excellent example of the company’s new “Material Theme.” Let’s take a closer look…

Over the past few days since I/O, I’ve been messing around with the Google News app for Android, a replacement for the old, neglected Google Play Newsstand app. Google’s pitch for this app is that it brings together all of the stories you care about, without you having to go hunt them down.

Setting up Google News is an absolute breeze. When you first open the app it prompts you to log in to a Google account, and from there the actual setup process is done. Since you’ve logged in with your account, Google already knows your interests and automatically compiles stories that you are interested in.

At the top of the app, you get 5 headlines that you probably care about, with topics mixed and matched depending on what’s current. Personally, I find that this leans more to politics than anything else, but there’s always something in this section that I really want to read.

It’s also nice on this main page that you get a search option that you can use to find a specific topic or service, and there’s also a weather option to see forecasts.

On the main page, there’s also a selection of “newscasts” on various topics, which are special to Google News. This format combines videos and select snippets from articles into a single animated box with captions. It’s a quick and easy way to get a general overview of a story.

Under newscasts, Google provides a button to access full coverage on that topic. There, you’ll find many more headlines and videos related to that topic.

There’s also a “Headlines” tab on the app which is full of these newscasts and also various headlines on topics. This is where you can get news that isn’t necessarily tailored to your interest, but rather are just the most popular headlines on the web. Headlines are broken up into sections, with links to full coverage constantly available.

On any article, you can use an optional save feature to add that story to your favorites tab for later viewing. That tab also shows any sources you’ve favorited, as well as magazines and topics you’ve favorited.

Finally, there’s the Newsstand tab which houses various publications such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Some sources are free, but many are only accessible with a subscription using the “Subscribe with Google” feature.

The one common theme running through the entire application is that of design. Google I/O saw the debut of a new start for Material Design, and this app is one of the first to bring Google’s Material Theme. While this isn’t a groundbreaking new design, it looks great and flows nicely in daily use. You can read more about Google’s updates to Material here.

For those interested, Google News is available now on the Play Store for free for Android users in the US (albeit still showing as Play Newsstand for many). It will be available in 127 countries on Android and iOS in the near future as well…

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Ben is a writer and video producer for 9to5Google.

Find him on Twitter @NexusBen. Send tips to schoon@9to5g.com or encrypted to benschoon@protonmail.com.

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