Google News badges track what you read, are sharable and social
In Google's ongoing quest to become more social, the search giant has released a new feature called Google News badges that tracks what users read and allows them to share their badges with Google contacts to see what interests they have in common.
The badges bring a bit of social gaming into news reading -- a tactic used by a number of other news sites over the last few years, as well as startups such as Badgeville.
"The more you read, the higher level badge you'll receive, starting with Bronze, then moving up the ladder to Silver, Gold, Platinum and finally, Ultimate," said Natasha Mohanty, an engineer working on Google News, in a company blog post. "We have more than 500 badges available, so no matter what kind of news you’re into, there’s a badge out there for you."
The badges are awarded to Google users when they're logged into their Google accounts (used for every Google service online) and reading items on Google News with their browser's Web history enabled (which is how Google tracks what a user is reading and how badged-up they should be), Mohanty said.
"Your badges are private by default, but if you want, you can share your badges with your friends," she said. "Tell them about your news interests, display your expertise, start a conversation or just plain brag about how well-read you are."
While the badges show off what topics a person is interested in, they don't offer information on what specific articles a user reads -- that's always left private, Mohanty said.
In a very Google+ Sparks-like addition, users will also be able to tailor news feeds directly in Google News relating to their reading interests and the badges can help users figure out just what it is they read a lot about, she said.
"You can also add custom sections by hovering on a badge and clicking 'add section' to read more about your favorite topics," Mohanty said.
The badges are in their first iteration as of now, and more social features could be coming soon, she said. If a user reads a few articles on the same topic every day, it should take about a week to earn their first badge, Google said.
"Once we see how badges are used and shared, we look forward to taking this feature to the next level," Mohanty said.
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Image: A screenshot from a video about Google News badges. Credit: Google via YouTube