Google’s $300 million News Initiative to fight fake news, simplify subscriptions


  • Google unveiled its $300 million News Initiative, which aims to help publishers stem the tide of misinformation and their shrinking bottom lines.
  • Subscribe with Google lets you use your Google account to pay for and manage news subscriptions.
  • Google looks to tackle “fake news” with improvements to Search and more.

The news industry might blame its decline on sites like Google, but they all must grapple with the proliferation of “fake news.” The search giant hopes to address both points with its $300 million News Initiative.

With online ad revenue on the decline, publishers like The New York Times and The Atlantic try to monetize their sites with limited numbers of free articles and paywalls. This is frustrating for those used to getting their content for free, but also for those who do not want to manage several separate subscriptions.

Google hopes to mitigate that frustration with Subscribe with Google, which lets people buy, manage, and log in to paywalled content with their Google accounts. Google Play Newsstand currently lets you do something similar, with the difference being the content is now shown in a normal browser instead of a separate app.

There is a bit more legwork involved for your existing subscriptions, but the bottom line is that your Google account will act as the middle-man between yourself and news publications.


As a nice bonus, your content shows up in a dedicated module when searching for stuff on Google, so long as you use Subscribe with Google.

Google said the feature has been in testing since October 2017 and worked with almost 60 different organizations across 18 countries. Publications that will support Subscribe with Google at launch include Les Échos, Fairfax Media, Le Figaro, the Financial Times, Gatehouse Media, Grupo Globo, The Mainichi, McClatchy, La Nación, The New York Times, NRC Media, Le Parisien, Reforma, la Republica, The Telegraph, USA Today Network and The Washington Post.

Google expects that list to grow over time. Also, Subscribe with Google does not issue one flat rate for all of these publications. Each sets its own prices, so if you expected Subscribe with Google to adopt an à la carte model, look elsewhere.

Subscribe with Google is only one part of Google’s News Initiative, however, with the other being tackling misinformation.

To minimize misinformation during breaking news, Google improved its systems to emphasize authoritative results over those that are fresh and relevant. The prioritization feature built into Search is available in the US, with other countries to follow in the coming months.

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Google’s efforts do not stop there, as the search giant partnered with the World Wide Web Consortium’s Credibility Coalition to develop technical markers “that can enable third-party assessments of online content.” Publishers can then use these assessments to assert the credibility of their content.

Finally, Google will release datasets to help machine learning models detect synthesized content.

These might be positives for news organizations and consumers, but Google does not necessarily do this from its heart. The search giant, along with Twitter and Facebook, has been criticized over the proliferation of misinformation in recent times. Google wants to save its own skin, but at least there will be some positives stemming from it.

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Nest Hello smart doorbell makes its way to the Google Store

The Nest Hello is Nest’s new smart doorbell system. It features a wide angle HD camera that has both night vision and HDR support as well as two-way audio and Nest Aware, which differentiates between strangers and people you know.

The doorbell went on sale a few days ago, but now it’s available for purchase on the Google Store. Nest has long been owned by Google, but now the company has been folded into the Google hardware team. The Nest Hello’s appearance on the Google Store was expected but we’re surprised that it took a few days.

If you want to pick one up, hit the source link. They’re $229 with free shipping so expect to pay a pretty penny!

Google Play Store now allows developers to set an internal test channel for 100 trusted users

Up until now, developers could either release apps directly to users on the Google Play Store, or test them via an alpha or beta channel. The alpha and beta channels allow users to test new versions of an app and report bugs before its official release.

Now, Google has announced a new test channel on the Play Store which precedes the alpha channel. This channel, named “test channel” is specifically made for internal tests. It lets developers quickly release their new app or app updates to select users through the Play Store. Instead of developers having to manually send APK files to internal testers, they can now use the test track.

The new test channel lets developers invite up to 100 trusted users by email for internal testing. Developers can create a tester list by selecting the option in the left menu of the Dev Console > Settings > Manage testers. To start a test, they can go to Release management > App releases and select Manage internal test select next to the internal test track. The full details of the procedure are detailed in the source link. After creating a test, developers will get a URL link to their app to share with their testers.

Internal tests are available to users from any location or device, even if the app is officially distributed to them. Also, internal testers can install paid apps for free. Testers have to pay for in-app purchases, however. To let them try out in-app purchases for free, developers need to add them to a license testers list.

In our view, Google’s announcement of a new test channel on the Play Store is great news for developers. They can now use the new test channel for internal testing, instead of having to manually share APKs of their new apps/app updates with their chosen testers.

Source: GoogleVia: Android Police

Google updates the desktop Play Store design, for better and for worse

  • Google rolled out a slight redesign of the Play Store for the desktop.
  • Some changes include a new screenshot viewer, drop-down menu for device compatibility, and a separate reviews page.
  • Scrolling through screenshots feels sluggish, however.

Google continues to tinker with the Play Store’s aesthetics on mobile, but the web version has not seen a visual change in a cool minute. That changed over the weekend, when Android Police noted that the search giant started to roll out a slightly updated UI. However, not every change is for the better.

The first change is the way you view screenshots. Previously, you could only view the screenshots within the interface. You could just open the images in a new tab or window, but viewing them within the interface made them appear small.

The updated UI now allows screenshots to be effectively full-screen, so long as there is enough resolution. You can thank the new lightbox UI for that, but you can also thank the UI for not being able to just close the screenshot by clicking on the dimmed area.

Android Police

No, your computer is not acting up. This is how scrolling through images actually performs. We have no idea why performance is this sluggish, though we should note that the Play Store pre-loads screenshots if you expand one.

Another quirk is the inability to use arrows to go from one screenshot to the next. Admittedly, this is more of a quality-of-life complaint, but it’s still strange.

Moving back to the positives, the redesign provides a drop-down menu for device compatibility and a more generalized format for the number of app installs. Finally, reading all of an app’s reviews now takes you to a dedicated page, where you can now filter reviews by device type.

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The changes appear meant to bring the Play Store’s web version in line with the Android app, regardless of the quirks that arise as a result. Here’s hoping that Google irons out some of those issues over time.

You should be able to view the updated web version of the Play Store now, so let us know what you think of the update.