This past Monday Google announced their newest online service called Fast Flip. Like most Google sites when first launched the program is an experimental Google Labs offering.
The tool works by allowing users to view full page content form various magazines and newspapers. Users can then flip through pages as if they were holding a paper composed of various papers in their hands.
The system is currently laid out to show sections based on popularity, topics and in some cases specific sources. The program then offers static images of each page section as you switch between sections. Click on a page and a larger image is shown, although it may still not be the whole page. Users can then move from one page to another regarding the same subject or click on a page in large view to be taken to the articles actual web page.
The concept is pretty cool, however the actual browsing between articles is not the easiest task and because the pages are static in nature there are no hyperlinks or interactive media files to watch or click on until you’re on the actual sources website.
The search function is also essentially a Google News search with large thumbnail instead of description text. Sometimes the thumbnails show off the main part of the articles in question, other times they simply show article images, again not the most convenient way to find information. Here’s an example of the search results layout.
While cool in concept it’s not a very useful application in its current state and unless tweaked to offer better article accessibility it will probably never make its way out of the Google Labs.