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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

Updated 8 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

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