‘Discover’ A Bunch Of Internet Garbage With Google’s New Homepage

Photo: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto (Getty Images)

Google’s homepage has been a pretty consistent internet staple over the years. Outside of an ever-changing logo and the “I’m feeling lucky” button, it’s a void of white space, the epitome of simplicity. This has been a signature of the Google brand, with entire papers being written about how less is more when it comes to a website you want someone to use daily. That hasn’t stopped Google from moving forward with an update on mobile that could change the face of the Google homepage forever. If you’re on Android, you may have already seen the “Discover” homepage sitting where all that white space used to be.

Discover is Google’s attempt to add an algorithm to search. If you’re looking for the latest news about a subject you’ve frequently searched about in the past, Discover will populate with relevant articles. It’s similar to Google News notifications, which target you based on search history and topics you’ve specifically followed. However, this goes beyond the user base of Google News and onto Google itself. It scales this type of automatic newsgathering from those already plugged into your everyman on the street.

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Does everyone want to let Google handle their news discovery? It depends on the person. Casual web surfers will probably be thankful to see updates on occasion, but there are plenty of times when you just want to search something random. Do you really need the latest sports scores if you’re just looking up a background actor in your latest run through of Face/Off? People already complain about information overload if they’re a regular Twitter user, and we feel like Discover is another manifestation of that problem.

In addition, automation is nice when it works, but it’s new enough that there are usually a lot of kinks. Playing around with the feature, we found several news stories that stayed in the system. Even days after we read it, Google wants to bug us about Nappa having hair in the next DBZ movie. We would love to see that slot taken up by the latest Toonami acquisitions instead since that’s a fresher story. If the Discover feed becomes full of spam that people ignore, is it really worth giving up Google’s traditional simplicity?

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For now, Discover is only out on mobile. If you want to avoid it, you can add the search bar widget to your homepage. Typing a term in there will get you direct access to the search giant. Even then, you’ll see the Discover icon pop up in the bottom left alongside a few other options. Who knows if Google plans to bring this sort of functionality to the desktop. We imagine it will be a lot less welcome amongst the crusty veterans who still cling onto their PC towers.