Google's FastFlip vs. Timeline

By WdchenWdchen (1261280312|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

Comparison between Google Fast Flip and Google Timeline


Yesterday was my first exposure to many of the various news search services available. I'll have to admit, I'm not one that stays current to any type of news whatsoever, but after previewing and conducting some quick queries, I find these tools to be quite user friendly. Of course, some sites are better than others, in terms of functions, available applications, search results, and overall usability, but each seems to serve its own purpose, and I'm sure there are plenty of regulars that use each service.

In terms of this blog, I'll specifically be comparing the two tools from Google Labs: Google Timeline and Google Fast Flip



Google Timeline

  • Google Timeline is a tool that displays information in a calendar-like view. When you first go to the site, the latest news is featured in chronological order from when the event first occurred at the start of the day, to events that occurred at the end of the day, which would be featured at the very bottom of the page.
  • The articles listed within the calendar all provide a quick summary to provide convenience. As a reader, you could quickly scan to find what you want. The handy arrows at the side allows you to also browse news articles featured earlier, or you can also type in a specific date to quicken your process.
  • Google Timeline is a tool that features an area that you can save your searches as well. In this case, you would be able to save several searches and either have all the news articles feeded into the calendar or separate them out individually, with a simple mouse click.
  • Here is a sample query that I conducted: [Swine Flu].
    • The results generated from this query are quite extensive providing you with several articles under each day and spanning across many days, months, and even years, especially with the swine flu being a hotly discussed item. It you search the date of January 7, 2005, although the articles tend to be sparse, Google Timeline still provides some results dated back that far and perhaps even further back!
    • Under each column, which features the day, all of the results are displayed, with each column being all of the events that happened within that particular day.

Pros of Google Timeline

  • Sorts all of the results by date of occurrence so that articles can be quickly found
  • Provides a brief summary so that it is easily scannable to find an article of interest
  • Features arrows on the side and a date search toolbar in order to find events on a specific day
  • Able to save queries and have multiple searches all at the same time or choose to separate them
  • Not only does it provide you with news related articles, but directly to the left of the search toolbar, there are also other types of queries that you can conduct, such as news quotes, news videos, and many others

Cons of Google Timeline

  • Does not provide any type of ranking system so you have to scan through all of the various results to find what you are looking for
  • Structure may not be suitable for everyone- instead of looking at a list of results, you have to click around and scroll up and down several times
  • Does not automatically provide you with various topics to choose from, such as tabs with Business, Politics, Sports, or Entertainment

Google Fast Flip

  • Google Fast Flip is a tool that features PDF-like images of the first page of various news articles with its title underneath. The purpose of this is to fit many pages on a screen and to allow the reader to quickly scan for any article that might catch the eye.
  • To give a quick overview of events, Google Fast Flip certainly does a fine job. It has many available applications, such as the popular, section, topic, and sources toolbars to help with convenience.
  • One thing that I am really uncertain about is the purpose of the small images as opposed to just a list of items. Especially since you aren't able to read anything on the small images and can only see the layout, is there any point? The layout may mean something to others, but quite frankly, I don't think it is useful.
  • Here is a sample query that I conducted: [Swine Flu]
    • The results for this query are not very extensive at all. In fact, there are only 30! In my opinion, this is much too few. It is a good thing to want to be specific, but for something so talked about these days, such as the swine flu, I would expect to find more articles.
    • Furthermore, there does not appear to be a date of occurrence by any of the articles. Which are the most recent articles?

Pros of Google Fast Flip

  • Provides a popular, section, topic, and sources toolbars for quick searches
    • With the sources toolbar for example, you can quickly view news articles specifically from that source
  • Some may find the small PDF-like images to be appealing in giving a layout of the front page

Cons of Google Fast Flip

  • Others might find the small images to be too small to read and not serve any purpose other than seeing the layout of the page
  • Provides very limited search results, so don't expect massive amounts of information after using this tool
  • Does not include the date of occurrences for the events, so it doesn't inform the user of which the most current article is

Google Timeline vs. Google Fast Flip

It is very hard to pick and choose as to which tool is better. Ultimately, if I had to make a choice however, I would choose Google Timeline. Some of the features that I liked in Google Timeline were not featured in Google Fast Flip and vice versa. Ideally, we would create a tool that had the combination of the two, but they both serve their unique purposes. Once again, if I had to make a recommendation, I would say the most functional, or the tool that I could see myself using for the term project would be Google Timeline for the fact that it lays out all the articles in a timeline manner and provides you with more articles than compared to Google Fast Flip

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