Google News continues to become a much more personalized experience for users. Back in November, the company launched the Custom Sections Directory feature, which lets users set up sections on topics of interest, which they can share with other users.
Now Google has added the ability to star story clusters that are of interest to each user. You use this feature, just as you would star messages in Gmail or stories in Google reader.
"When you star a story in Google News, it's one way to let us know that you're interested in that subject," says Google News software engineer Jude Brito. "When there are significant updates, we will alert you by putting the headline in bold so you can get more information. You can also follow your 20 most recent starred stories in the 'Starred' section of Google News."
Users must be signed in to star a story cluster, or to access their list of starred stories. This is one aspect of this feature that makes it even more intriguing.
Google News has always been a site news lovers could enjoy regardless of whether they had a Google account. That may still be true, but now Google has yet another way to entice the average non-Google-account-having user to sign up for a Google account, thereby giving them access to many other Google products. Once a user has a Google account, it just may make using Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, etc. more worthwhile to those hesitant in the past.
People that don't use feed readers may find the starring feature quite helpful. I know I use it frequently within Google Reader, and find it incredibly helpful as a time-saving and organizational tool. We live in an age of information overflow, and keeping stories of interest organized when we don't have time to read them right away is a very convenient thing.