Google launches virtual magazine service Fast Flip
LONDON - Google has launched a service called Fast Flip that aims to replicate the magazine reading experience online and generate revenue for publishers.
Fast Flip lets users browse through bundles of recent news, headlines and popular topics, as well as through feeds from individual publishers, such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, Newsweek and the BBC.
Users press on the left and right arrow keys to "flip" them to the next page, which can either be within the same publication or within a different publication.
The "pages" are images that Google has captured from three dozen publishers' websites.
Clicking on a particular page takes users directly through to the publisher's own site.
Google has also installed a search service, which allows users to search through the different newspapers and magazines for a specific topic or news item.
Fast Flip personalises the experience for users by taking cues from selections they make. It uses these cues to offer them more content from sources, topics and journalists that they seem to prefer.
The three dozen publishers that Google has partnered with to launch the service will receive a share of the revenue earned from ads that are sold against the content.
Google said on its blog: "Fast Flip is a new reading experience that combines the best elements of print and online articles.
"As the name suggests, flipping through content is very fast, so you can quickly look through a lot of pages until you find something interesting."
Google believes that giving users the ability to read articles faster means that they will read more of them, driving more ad revenue to publishers.
The internet giant said: "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.
"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."
A mobile version of Fast Flip is also available for Android-powered devices and the iPhone.
Separately, Microsoft has launched a visual search feature on its Bing search engine. The new feature will allow users to browse results using pictures instead of text.
It will initially concentrate on four main areas: travel, health, leisure and shopping.
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