Google is rolling out its new program, Accelerated Mobile Pages — or, as a mnemonic, AMP — that aims to compete with Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News. And, until the worldwide web crumbles under the pressure, Google is going to play favorites by giving preference to AMP-affiliated news outlets.
You can preview the experience right now on your mobile device at g.co/ampdemo. (Just type in a news topic and scroll down to the AMP carousel.)
AMP puts Google’s AMP HTML — a “new open framework built entirely out of existing web technologies” — in the hands of websites, which allows them to construct “light-weight webpages.” And these flimsy things load really, really fast. The downside for people who have to build these pages is that the code is an AMP-specialized version of HTML (Facebook’s Instant articles, for example, use regular old HTML).
You’ll also be able to open up AMP’d articles within what feels like an in-browser app. (Er, maybe we’d best not call them AMP’d.) Swipes to the left or right give you other (AMP’d) articles under the same heading or search term. News outlets have the option to use either generic templates or maintain versions of their own designs. The articles you read on your phones will no longer drip-load, Tetris-style, as you scroll down the page, but, in some cases, they may appear more bland.
Still, most everyone benefits — excluding, for now, the already-overworked developers responsible for transitioning to Google’s new system. Websites will, presumably, receive more traffic and retain more readers, as fewer visitors will impatiently fling their phones across the room. These visitors will, instead, be able to read the news they care about immediately, and — like Tinder for news — can simply swipe left to the next instantaneous story if the current article disappoints. (On the business side, advertiser content loads just as fast.)
And, compared with, say, Apple News, Google’s AMP is not an independent endeavor. It’s incorporated into your already-familiar mobile web experience. There’s no need to navigate to a separate app, defeating your original purpose (more content, only faster).
Here’s Google’s sweetly goofy video explanation of the feature, worth a watch: