Google Fast Flip seemed like just another gimmick, but having given it a test drive I'm already hooked. Pick a newspaper, say the New York Times. Or a topic, such as Health. You're presented with an eye-catching snapshot of the beginning of the first article. You can see the headline, the first several paragraphs of text, and probably a graphic, pull-quote, or summary. Oh, and also some ads—but (shhh, don't tell Google) the ads are blessedly easy to ignore.
If you like what you see in the article, you can click on it to read the rest. Or you can hit your computer's arrow key and move quickly on to the next article. Did I say quickly? That's why I'm so excited about this. No point-and-click, no waiting for a page to load, just one keystroke and you're there. In a flash. It takes me about a second per article to determine whether or not I want to know more—usually not, it doesn't take much time to scan a lot.
This is far more satisfying than scanning news headlines in a feed reader. The headline itself does not usually give enough detail, and I find myself wasting too much time clicking on links that might have been interesting but are not. With Fast Flip I can take most stories with a single glance, while for many others I find that reading the first several paragraphs tells me what I want to know without having to bother to click through to the whole article. When I want more detail, it's there—but doesn't intrude unless I seek it out.What will Google think of next? I hope this catches on in a big way; as yet there is not a great choice of sources.