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Google Search Embraces the Feed — But Don't Call It Social

  • Revamp of app looks like a news stream from Facebook, Twitter
  • Product pulls from searches, YouTube, other personal info

Years ago, Google built a social network separate from its prized asset, web search. The effort failed. Now the company is trying again -- only this time, it’s turning its search engine into something that looks a lot like the news feed of a social network.

The Alphabet Inc. unit is introducing a tailored feed of news, entertainment and myriad web content based on users’ searches, YouTube video views and other personal information. It’s an expansion of an older mobile service called Google Now. Yet some new bells and whistles -- information from local trends and an ability to "follow" public figures, for instance -- give Google’s search feed a similar feel to the algorithmic stream of Facebook Inc.’s News Feed. That feature has helped Facebook capture online attention like few other companies.

"We want people to understand they’re consuming information from Google," Sashi Thakur, a Google engineering vice president, told reporters. "It will just be without a query."

Google has long been interested in making search more personal and proactive. When users are logged into to their Google accounts, search results are already heavily personalized. Google...


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