Google Fast Flip (http://fastflip.googlelabs.com/) is a new news service from Google with a social networking aspect. The Home page shows a summary of news stories, with a thumbnail image of each story as it looks on its source website. Clicking on a story takes the user to the source site, with a Fast Flip menu shown at the top of the page. From this menu, the user can choose to email a link to the story, vote for it by clicking on the Like button, add the story to Google reader, or share the story on Twitter, Facebook, Digg or Delicious. There is also an arrow shown on the page which takes the user directly to the next story in the category they were viewing.
Stories are categorized in a number of ways. At the top of the Home page, the reader can choose to read the most popular stories that are Recent, Most Viewed, Recommended, Headlines and My Likes (shows stories the user has voted for). Below that, the Sections are listed, which includes Politics, Business, US, World, Sports, Sci/Tech, Entertainment, Health, Opinion and Travel. Below that is the Topics category which shows currently popular topics. Then below that is the Sources category, which organizes the stories by the major news outlets being monitored by the service. There is a Search bar at the top of the screen which will perform a keyword search on all categories. A mobile application for the site is provided for the iPhone and Android platforms.Show more screenshots »
At time of review, Google Fast Flip was still a Google Labs project, which means it was still in beta. The service currently has a limited number of publishers as content providers – Google plans to add more before release of the product. Google Fast Flip was shut down in September, 2011.
Competition to Google Fast Flip comes from the major news site such as Yahoo and MSNBC, as well as from Google News itself. What is different about Fast Flip is the social networking aspect and the ease of sharing news stories with others. The interface, with thumbnails of the story's webpage, is new and different as well. The site actually provides a more convenient way to browse the news than traditional news sites.
The Fast Flip site has a clean and uncluttered look and feel, as is usual with all Google sites. Navigation is intuitive, and the site is quite responsive. Search results are returned in thumbnail form as well, but load quickly. Page loads are also quite responsive. Advertising is displayed on the site, but it is relatively unobtrusive.
Registration to the Fast Flip site is not required to use most of the features on the site. Registration is required, however to keep track of stories the user has voted for and to email links to stories. The site uses Google login – there is no separate registration process for Fast Flip. The registration process for a free Google account asks for email address, password and country. Validation of the email address is required.
There is no premium membership offered to the Fast Flip site.
Fast Flip is recommended to anyone who desires a convenient way to browse and discover new news stories. The interface is very user-friendly, and the site provides a new experience in reading the news. The ability to vote for content as well as easily share content is also a plus.