Google Tests RRS ‘Follow’ Button In Chrome
Google is testing a “Follow” button for Chrome browser on Android that lets users keep up with favorite sites to create an updating list of new content they publish on the web browser.
“Follow” is based on RRS, an open web standard that has been the pillar of many web aggregation tools in the past. That includes Google’s own, much-beloved (and now defunct) Google Reader.
The test will allow users to follow sites from the browser menu and updates will be aggregated in a card-based feed that is shown when users open a web tab. It’s not clear whether this feed is wholly dependent on sites providing RSS support, or if Google will fill in the gaps itself.
This is exciting for certain sort of web users who misses the Glory days of RRS (and, by extension a mode of internet discovery and distribution that faded Eight years ago). RRS allows users to maintain a personalized feed of new content from favorite sites, blogs, and podcasts.
Google’s Adrienne Porter Felt tweeted that the following feed is based on RSS and that the company is building it to address a “user need.”
? we’re testing out a way to follow websites directly in Chrome. if you follow a site, content shows up on the new tab page as it’s published. ? I’ve been using it myself the last few weeks and am so excited to share publicly! https://t.co/KL3YELDHbl pic.twitter.com/3f4jXkKRdA
— Adrienne Porter Felt (@__apf__) May 19, 2021
News of the feature was announced at Google’s I/O 2021 conference, where it revealed a torrent of new products including the next versions of Android and Wear OS, along with updates for Photos, Maps and Search.
Felt described how the feature primarily relies on RSS to pull content from sites, but can also grab additional info using the crawler. Ruling out email newsletters, Felt said places like Substack that include a web version of the newsletter should work. Google is recommending sites keep their RSS feed up-to-date so that Chrome can grab the latest content. It’s also asking for input from publishers, bloggers, creators and netizens.
“We’ve heard it loud and clear: Discovery & distribution is lacking on the open web, and RSS hasn’t been ‘mainstream consumer’ friendly,” tweeted Google’s head of web creator relations, Paul Bakaus. “Today, we’re announcing an experimental new way, powered by RSS, to follow creators with one click.”
We’ve heard it loud and clear: Discovery & distribution is lacking on the open web, and RSS hasn’t been ‘mainstream consumer’ friendly.
— Paul Bakaus (@pbakaus) May 19, 2021