Google Local, News Updated

    January 24, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

More pictures means more reasons to enjoy Google Local, while Google News loses a notable part of its name after nearly four years.

Google News has left beta. According to Google, that is; the little BETA appearing under the Google News logo hasn’t been removed yet. It did take Google a while to add a Delete button to Gmail, so maybe the tag will be up there for a while longer.

Krishna Bharat, Creator, Google News, wrote about the evolution of the news site that has become a default homepage for many users:

When we launched the English-language edition in September 2002, we entered untested waters with a grand experiment in news browsing – using computers to organize the world’s news in real time and providing a bird’s eye view of what’s being reported on virtually any topic. By presenting news “clusters” (related articles in a group), we thought it would encourage readers to get a broader perspective by digging deeper into the news — reading ten articles instead of one, perhaps — and then gain a better understanding of the issues, which could ultimately benefit society.

Bharat also noted that among the feedback received from users was the desire to not see press releases on the main News page. Press releases can be found in search results along with related stories on a topic.

News also saw a Recommended Stories feature arrive. Users who sign in to their Google Accounts and read stories on Google News will start receiving suggestions from the algorithms that generate the News page.

Those Recommended stories derive from the Personal Search History created by the activity of signed-on users. Once the Search History has enough searches in place, recommendations will appear in a section below Top News.

Google’s popular Maps service merged into Google Local in 2005. Since then, improvements made by the Google Earth team have led to Local’s image database matching Earth’s coverage, Google Earth engineer Chikai Ohazama posted.

Google Earth added more detail to its pictures. 6-inch imagery for parts of the UK improved the view of places like Buckingham Palace, which can be seen in Local as it can be in Earth. Also, Google Local now has two more zoom levels in Satellite mode, to enhance the images available for many of the places around the globe.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.