Google News Tuned Up with Multimedia, Personalization

Google News has switched to a default one-column view and made several other user experience perks that users may love or hate.

Google is upgrading its nearly 10-year-old Google News service with some new aesthetics and tools to improve the user experience.

Launched in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Google News remains a popular news aggregation service at a time when users are increasingly turning to Twitter and TechMeme. These sources simply update faster.

Google has switched the default view to the "One Column" view, as Google merged List View into Top Stories. Users may, however, switch back to "Two Column" view, which resembles classic Google News, by clicking a tab at the bottom of the Top Stories cluster.

Google is also collapsing each story cluster--those chunks of links regarding related topics--to one headline. Users may click around the headline to propagate the cluster for their viewing pleasure.

Some of these expanded stories may get tabbed with labels, such as an "opinion" piece or an "in-depth" article. It's unclear how Google is judging these. Google is likely looking for certain words that signal an opinion and gauging story length to grok when something is an in-depth analysis.

Also, within each expanded story cluster, Google will offer a sliding bar of videos and photos, links to related sections and sharing options.

Google has also expanded the Top Stories section to six or more stories from three. While the first three stories remain unpersonalized, the rest may be personalized based on a user's interests.

Users can choose the "Standard Edition" if they don't want the personalized content, or customize personalized content to receive tech news or entertainment.

Search Engine Land noted Google is giving readers the option to filter out blogs and press releases from their Google News content.

The changes will no doubt be welcome by some but reviled by many others. Google News users have proven incredibly resistant to changes the search engine makes to its news aggregation service. Last summer's upgrades generated quite a loud outcry among Google News fans, mostly negative.

The Google News desktop features come days after Google upgraded its Google News for mobile application to localize the news for users based on their cities and surrounding areas.

This "News near you" feature is available in U.S. English on Apple's iPhone and Google Android handsets.