November 16, 2016 Last Updated 10:13 am

Media app updates: Google Play Newsstand redesign released

Bug fix iOS app updates for NYT VR, CBS News, DownBeat magazine, as well as for productivity apps such as Dropbox and the Microsoft Office mobile apps

The search giant Google has released an update for Google Play Newsstand, and like its music app, it is “applying the power of Google machine learning” to the app. That means, of course, that it will tell you what you want to read, just as it will tell you what you want to listen to.

If it sounds like I am a skeptic to all this “machine learning” you are right – the more of it I see, the less of it I use.


Having said that, let’s at least hear Google out:

“When you open the app, a personalized briefing shows you a blend of the top stories you need to know, including major headlines, local news, and personal interests. It’s perfect to start your morning, or to get caught up in under one minute during the day.”

This sounds very much like Facebook – with Google delivering the news to you not based on the importance of that news based on the judgement of an editor, but the reading habits of the reader. That, of course, leads to a circular effect where views are reinforced.

Clearly Google is hoping this isn’t the case, and the fact that news would be limited to those inside the Google Play Newsstand would eliminate some of the outlier websites seen in Facebook News Feeds.

To promote its changes, it has used some quotes from some publishers – like using newspaper reviews on a film promotion:

“Newsstand just got better and CNN is happy to be a part of it. Video is more visible and integral, aligning with CNN’s expertise and enabling us to reach audiences around the world in a more visual AND more personal way.” — Meredith Artley, SVP & Editor In Chief, CNN Digital

“The Telegraph is committed to ensuring that our readers are able to access the content they want, on the platforms they prefer. As part of this, we have been working to grow the Telegraph’s presence on Google Newsstand. Over the last year, this has seen a trebling of our traffic on the platform. As Newsstand continues to evolve, it offers ever better user experiences and more monetisation opportunities for publishers. We welcome the launch of the latest version of Newsstand and look forward to being part of its ongoing success.” — Melinda Rogers, Lead Product Manager, The Telegraph

Does that make you feel better? Me neither.

In any case, the update brings Google Play Newsstand up to version 4.0.

Most of the other media app updated were for big fixes, they include:

Other updates:

Harrods’ very nice mobile and tablet app, simply called Harrods, has added a mobile store guide.

Microsoft has updated its Office iOS apps – Excel, PowerPoint, and Word, for bug fixes.

And finally, Dropbox is doing something different with its app descriptions for their updates. Rather than writing new copy inside Apple’s App Store system, they are directly users to a web page: This is what it says about the latest update:

Sign PDFs from Dropbox
Get back the time it used to take to print, sign, scan, and send back urgent documents. Now, as soon as a PDF gets sent your way, you can add a signature directly in your Dropbox iOS app.

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