Google Fast Flip is a web application in development from Google Labs. It lets users discover and share news articles. It combines qualities of print and the Web, with the ability to “flip” through pages online as quickly as flipping through a magazine. It also enables users to follow friends and topics, discover new content and create their own custom magazines around searches.
To try this web application visit http://fastflip.googlelabs.com/. The page displays thumbnail like representation of the most popular news and magazine sites. With this view, you can see the pages at once alongside other pages.
When you look at the page closely, you can see the image screenshot of each page with the headings displayed as text on the bottom of each screen image. Since each screenshot is an image file, it can not function like the actual page – clicking any part of the image will bring you the bigger image.
With arrows at the left and right side of the images you can flip through the pages like a regular magazine. The images load very quickly and it seems like the images are pre-downloaded by Google’s server – it definitely is quicker than visiting each homepage one by one.
The flipping page/image concept has both its strength and weaknesses. The images load quickly, but the functionality of HTML tags on the page is lost – you will not be able to follow any hyperlinks displayed since it is only a plain image. To be able to visit the source of the page, just click the image and it will open a new tab pointing to the URL of the page.
The site offers other cool concepts like being able to search for any subjects and being able to make a custom magazine on the fly. It has its own voting system that allows users to “like” or “dislike” content. It is similar to Digg’s concept of “dig or bury” to determine popularity. Currently, the service is testing a limited number of publishing partners in the U.S. We hope to see more publishers added in the future.