Google today announced a small but important new Google+-powered feature for Google News. While there are currently a plethora of startups that are trying to provide their users with personalized news experience based on what their friends are sharing and liking on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, Google itself hasn’t made any real forays into this market. Now, however, Google News is making some tepid first steps in this direction by featuring “articles that your Gmail contacts and people in your Google+ circles have publicly +1’d” in Google’ News’ Spotlight section.
It’s important to note that these social signals from your friends don’t currently influence the main news section on Google News. There, Google’s news algorithms provide the personalization features based on your web history and which articles you click on.
Google is only making baby steps toward social recommendations here, though. As Google software engineer Erich Schmidt points out, the Spotlight section will only “sometimes” features stories that were +1’d by your friends or people in your circles.
I gather this is just a way for Google to test its social recommendation algorithms for Google News, though, and that we will soon see more of this kind of personalization across the service. With Google+, after all, the company now has its own data source for social recommendations.