In a limited experiment, Google Search has begun showing like counts for articles in the Android app’s Discover feed for some.
Update: Google is continuing to test this feature, with a slightly broader rollout.
When browsing news and blog articles on social media, the like count can be a helpful metric in deciding what to read. Google, of course, hasn’t had a true social networking app in years, following the closure of Google+.
However, it has long been possible to share your positive or negative opinion about an article in the Google Discover feed. The feedback system was originally heavily focused on refining your personal tastes through upvoting posts you like and downvoting those you don’t. Eventually, this was simplified to a heart button within each card, while the downvote moved to become a “Not interested in this” option within a menu.
Google now appears to be trying out a second purpose for the Discover feed’s like button. In a limited experiment, the Discover feed now shows a like counter for individual articles and videos, revealing how many other Google Search users have enjoyed a post enough to upvote it.
For now, the experimental like counter has only been spotted within a carousel of articles all relating to a particular topic. It seems to be even further limited, as we only spotted the like count on a single device in a single refresh of the Google Discover feed.
Update 5/10: Google is continuing to test its introduction of like counts to the Discover feed. In the most recently spotted design, individual stories in the Discover feed were seen sporting a like counter. This is a big step up from the previous iteration which only appeared in carousels of related stories.
Notably, despite this new rollout for the Discover feed’s like counter, not all stories in the feed show likes yet. It’s not clear what the distinction is between those that show and those that don’t.
We’ve rearranged a few paragraphs of the original article for sake of organizational flow.
The change marks an interesting potential shift for the Discover feed. For potential readers, there would be a visible metric of how well-received a piece of content is. This has the potential to affect smaller publications striving to get their content into more people’s Discover feeds – they may feel incentivized to encourage readers to click the like button.
Meanwhile, there isn’t a clear indication today that clicking the Discover feed’s like buttons does anything other than help curate your own feed. It may come as a surprise to some that their feedback is also being shared (anonymously) as an endorsement of the post for others.
More on Google Search:
- Google Lens ‘multisearch’ lets you ask questions about photos, now in beta on Android and iOS
- Google Discover tests expanded weather info at top of feed [Update: Sports & stocks]
- Google Search app getting ‘Notifications’ tab for followed topics on iOS
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