Google is having another stab at making it easier to read news online with the launch of Fast Flip, an experiment in making online news sites act a little more like their printed counterparts.
Google News distinguished researcher Krishna Bharat claimed on the official Google Blog that a problem with reading news online today is that browsing can be "really slow".
"A media-rich page loads dozens of files and can take as much as 10 seconds to load over broadband, which can be frustrating," said Bharat.
Originally codenamed 'Flipper', Fast Flip attempts to overcome this problem by providing essentially pre-rendered versions of news articles, laying them out in a more print like fashion, thereby allowing users to flick through bundles of related news content from a variety of sources.
Google claims that this allows pages to be scanned more easily, and that the information loads almost instantly.
As with the popular Google News, the information can be sorted in various ways, including recent news, headlines and popular topics, as well as collating feeds from individual publishers.
At the moment, it appears that the Fast Flip pages are effectively screen grabs, so longer stories are sometimes cut off mid-way and only the first page of articles spanning several pages is shown.
To get around this, a click on the image will take the user straight to the article on the site, allowing them to finish reading the story, although possibly with all the loading and wait times Google is trying to avoid.
The search firm has also created a mobile version of Fast Flip, designed for the Android and iPhone platforms, which could be a real boon for users wanting to access the latest news while out and about.
Google has partnered with 36 online news publishers to build Fast Flip under a revenue sharing deal, but said that more will be added if the service proves successful.
"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," wrote Bharat.
"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."
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