The feature, which builds on the open RSS web standard, was designed to help simplify the experience of getting the latest and greatest content from your favorite sites directly in Chrome. Instead of subscribing to mailing lists or enabling notifications for each site, users can simply tap on a Follow button to stay up to date on the latest releases.
Google’s Follow feature differs from Discover (now called “For you” in Chrome) and its topic-based approach as users are actively choosing which sites they want to see content from. However, going forward, Discover’s algorithmic feed will leverage users’ follows in Chrome to surface content.
Senior staff developer advocate at Google, Paul Bakaus provided further insight on the company’s new Follow feature in a recent tweet, saying:
“We’ve heard it loud and clear: Discovery & distribution is lacking on the open web, and RSS hasn’t been ‘mainstream consumer’ friendly. Today, we’re announcing an experimental new way, powered by RSS, to follow creators with one click. This is only the beginning of a bigger exploration, and to get this right, we need your feedback.”
Follow your favorite sites
According to a post in the Chromium Blog, Android users in the US running Chrome Canary may see the Follow feature show up in their browsers in the coming weeks.
Google’s goal for this feature is to allow users to easily follow all of the websites they care about from both large publishers and even small neighborhood blogs by tapping a Follow button in Chrome. When a followed site publishes new content, users will then see updates in a new Following section on the New Tab page in the company’s browser.
To ensure that users see the latest content, Google recommends that all site owners keep their site’s RSS up-to-date. However, the company will provide more guidance to web publishers at a later date when it decides whether or not this feature will graduate from an experiment and be rolled out to all Chrome users.
As the amount of content on the web has increased significantly over the past few years, giving users an easy way to keep track of the latest posts from their favorite websites makes a great deal of sense especially as RSS hasn’t seen mainstream consumer adoption.