Google Removes ‘Your News Update’ from Assistant

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According to 9to5Google, Google has discreetly withdrawn the “Your News Update” feature from Assistant, opting for the company’s current (and more traditional) news briefs in instead of the algorithmically generated audio digest.

Your News Update, which debuted in 2019, was an attempt to bring the same algorithmic feeds to audio news that had been so successful on Facebook and other Google products.

Your News Update would use Google’s abundance of personal data to deliver significantly more personalised and relevant content updates from a wide range of partners that Google was licencing news from, rather than consumers picking their three specific new sources (like NPR, The New York Times, or CNN).

The trouble with that kind of system, as Dieter Bohn of The Verge pointed out at the time of release, is that it relies on being extremely accurate, especially for audio, where you have to listen through each news report, which takes significantly longer than a text-based version. Furthermore, as anyone who has recently used Google’s algorithmic headline function in its apps knows, Google’s estimates about what you’re interested in can be hit or miss. Of course, the same problem with algorithmic feeds existed here as it did everywhere else on the internet: the risk of being trapped in a self-selected bubble of filtered news.

There’s no official announcement from Google on why the functionality was deprecated, so we may never know for sure why it was relegated to Google’s ever-growing product graveyard. However, Google Assistant‘s original news digest option remains available, ensuring that customers are not left in the dark.

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