Google has rolled out an update for the Android version of Web browser Chrome which introduces native RSS functionality.
In the latest Android build, Chrome users can curate a feed of updates from their favorite websites using the new follow button placed in the three dot menu at the top right of the screen. Whenever the user opens a new browser tab, articles published on these websites will appear in the smart-looking feed.
According to Tweets The feature has already been rolled out in proportion to users running the latest build (Chrome 94), from Google Chrome’s engineering director Adrienne Porter Felt. Others can activate the feature manually via the Chrome flags system (chrome://flags) under “Web Feeds”.
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Unfortunately, the feature isn’t currently available for iOS or desktop users, but Porter Felt says that updates to these platforms are in the works.
RSS in Google Chrome
By creating a new avenue for sharing and discovering web content, the rise of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter effectively ended the rise of RSS, the open standard on which many aggregation tools are based.
However, as the problems of algorithm-based approaches to content discovery emerge (misinformation, echo chambers, etc.), many people are looking for ways to have more control over the content they serve.
Currently, many of these people work with free RSS readers, many of whom have been developed on a shoe-string budget (or no budget at all) and, as such, often lack polish and depth. . But now, to amend the decision to discontinue its RSS service, Google Reader, Google is making a comeback in the space with Chrome.
“We heard it loud and clear,” wrote Paul Bakos, Head of Web Creator Relations, when the feature was first announced. “Discovery and distribution on the open web is lacking, and RSS has not been ‘mainstream consumer’ friendly.”
While RSS is unlikely to regain its old status, Google’s decision to bring the technology back from the cold could signal the start of a new trend. The backlash against social media and the economics that underpins clickbait and misinformation could see RSS (or other such technology) play a much more influential role in the way people interact with the web in years to come. .
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