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Photo: Screenshot from Google

No one ever says "Let's see what's on Google" the way they might say "Let's see what's on Facebook" when they turn on their phones or computers. The search giant is hoping to change that, with the announcement Monday that it will offer a personalized feed of stories, items and links on the Google search home page on all mobile browsers.

Why it matters: After 20 years of dedication to its minimalist home screen, Google may be ready to embrace the shape of Facebook's News Feed, which holds users longer.

Google's search box invited active engagement — you had to initiate the process. The streams that Facebook's News Feed popularized offer a more passive experience: Just sit back, scroll down, and click when you feel like it.

  • Searches have a limit — they end when you find what you're after.
  • Streams are effectively infinite — they continue until your attention wanders or your battery dies.

The details: The new service, Google Discover, has been gestating under the name Google Feed.

The background: On a web that was overloading pages with attention-grabbing junk and ads even in 1998, when Google was born, the search engine made a name for itself with its pristine screen: A colorful logo, a search box, two buttons, and the vastness of global knowledge just beyond.

But over the next decade, "enter search term and click through" lost out to a different model of online interaction — the stream.

  • Pioneered by blogs and universalized by Facebook and Twitter, streams emphasized what was new and, later, what an algorithm calculated that you wanted to see.

At Google Discover's launch event on Monday, company execs referred to the new offering as a form of "queryless search" — a kind of content recommendation system that knows what you want before you tell it what you need.

What they know: Google certainly has plenty of information to drive Discover's choices. Particularly for users of Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs, Google probably knows more about you as an individual than Facebook does.

  • Facebook knows who you know and what you share with them.
  • Google knows what you know, what you're doing, and what you're learning about.

The bottom line: With Discover, Google will test the proposition that a feed based on deep awareness of your individual knowledge needs will serve you better than one based on social network cues and sharing — and that there are better ways to keep up on the news than Facebook.

Go deeper

Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Schumer announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.

1 hour ago - Health

CDC extends interval between COVID vaccine doses for exceptional cases

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.

Texas AG sues Biden administration over deportation freeze

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks to members of the media in 2016. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration in federal district court over its 100-day freeze on deporting unauthorized immigrants, and he's asking for a temporary restraining order.

Between the lines: The freeze went into effect Friday, temporarily halting most immigration enforcement in the U.S. In the lawsuit, Paxton claims the move "violates the U.S. Constitution, federal immigration and administrative law, and a contractual agreement between Texas" and the Department of Homeland Security.

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