Google June 30 offered its biggest refresh for Google News ever, adding more personalization features that let users promote or demote content and publications they liked or disliked.
The problem is, there wasn't a problem with Google News. The majority of users seem to have liked it just fine before, according to the majority of the complaints on the Google News support forum here.
So the company, which told me that it would not bring the retired version of Google News most folks liked back, made some changes in response to the ire.
The biggest of these rather small changes may please some users who loved the way Google News was before.
Before June 30, Google News employed a print newspaper-like layout, sporting a three-column top section with a two-column bank of stories below. Then Google took this layout away in the refresh, forcing users to rebuild their custom content views.
Google News Product Manager Chris Beckmann acknowledged the pain this caused, noting that while hundreds of thousands of users customized their Google News homepages:
"some of you wrote in to say you missed certain aspects of the previous design, such as the ability to see results grouped by section (U.S., Business, etc.) in two columns."
In response, the company added a two-column tab to its viewing options, which already included a list view and sections view. Check it out:
Clicking on the two-column tab yields this display, which shows the top handful of stories from each section:
A couple more changes to note: rather than simply expanding a cluster when users' mouse over it, Google is now showing the entire cluster of articles for each story. Users can also now make the weather forecast from their local news section vanish.
What do you think of these minor changes? My guess is they will be insufficient in pleasing most of the gripes. The old layout was dearly loved and will be sorely missed.
Google is inviting compliments and criticisms here on its Google News Support forum.