Google Play Newsstand celebrates its third birthday this weekend. The application can trace its roots back to the release of Google Currents in late 2011, and is today used by more than 100 million users every month. Google Play Newsstand can be customized by adding various news feeds to the application from an extensive catalog of news providers subscribing to the service. The application works by collating articles from a number of news sources around the world and presenting this to the reader as though it were a personal, customized magazine. And today, Google is officially announcing an update to the application, bringing it to version 4.0. There are a number of improvements to the application both on the surface and under the skin and Google's blog on the subject summarizes this by highlighting the team had three improvement objectives with version 4.0. personalization, rich media and extending the application to the web.
Some of these improvements to the application are being driven by the inclusion of machine learning into the service, which is a means whereby the Google Play Newsstand service can better understand what customers need from the device. Google's updated service will be better able to understand readers and make relevant recommendations for the "most timely, relevant stories… based on your individual interests." However, whilst Google is aiming to deliver a more personal, interesting experience to Play Newsstand users, the service is also being made available as a web app. This means that the service will be available via any compatible operating system and browser, which in turn means that customers will not be restricted to their mobile device in order to use the Play Newsstand and enjoy the same rich experience. This opens up a whole potential new market for the Google Play Newsstand service as it could mean people start to use it more on a desktop platform. In turn, this increases the appeal of the service for various news companies around the world and should also encourage companies to make better use of the rich multimedia potential unlocked in version 4.0 of the application.
Another side benefit is that it means customers might not need to download and install the application, which for devices with a small amount of storage, it will be appreciated as it could free up internal space. The ability to view the feed via the mobile browser could also be a welcome feature for customers with a very restricted data allowance as it means there is no application to download information in the background should one accidentally enable updating via mobile data.