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Google News went down and I tried Bing News – I might never go back

If we’re being honest with ourselves, none of us like Google News, at least not since a series of design overhauls that made it less inviting, dense, newsy, and useful. So when Google News went down for hours on Friday, the – ahem – news was met with a mixture of frustration and a little relief.

Oh, good, we’re freed and maybe free to go elsewhere. I ended up on, of all places, Bing News.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Bing, Microsoft’s search engine that was largely ignored until Microsoft added OpenAI’s GPT to it (and later Copilot), which made it the first AI-infused search engine.

Like Google, Bing’s search reaches across multiple content categories, including images, video, shopping, maps, and news. I’ve used various parts of the Bing search platform, with a heavy focus on its newer AI capabilities, but can’t say I’ve ever looked at news. Even after Google’s disastrous Google News redesign in 2022, I didn’t check out Bing News.

Then Google News went temporarily “poof!” and I needed a news aggregation source. So, I opened Bing on the desktop and selected News. My first reaction was, “Oh, how simple, clean, accessible.” 

(Image credit: Future)

At the Top of Bing News is a grid of six top stories; each has a large image with the headline below and slightly bleeding into the image above. While headlines from other news sources are not listed in each box, Bing News smartly includes media outlet icons and information about how many other stories on the topic are available. A quick click on one of the “relevant news” links and you get another smartly-designed page with a grid that prioritizes the text headlines, followed by videos and then a list of more news on the topic.

On the Bing News home page below that top stories grid, Bing News jumps into a small grid of “For You” stories (Bing News may think I care a bit too much about politics), and below that a side-scrolling set of “Trending on Bing” news boxes.

It’s here Bing News takes a breather, with a clever side-scrolling “Take a break” section that features lighter stories. It’s fortunately only one story deep, so it doesn’t overwhelm the page. Below that it hops into geolocated local news, which is followed by a long list of “more news” headlines.

Fairly balanced

I think Bing News achieves a good balance here of prioritizing the top news, giving you a slate of tailored news, what other people are reading or discovering in search, a tiny break, and then getting to the meat of the news cycle. This structure is clean and logical.

Where Google News always leaned hard into news categories, Bing News takes a lighter touch (there is a broad category list on the left side) and it may be a better one, since you don’t feel that any news is shoehorned into an unnecessary category.

This is a generally more inviting feel than Google News, which often seems to be trying too hard, especially in tailoring perhaps too much of the news to my interests when, in reality, I want news that’s important and interesting. I do have my preferences but if I see too much news about only the stuff I care about, I won’t learn anything new (and also might miss out on some differing points of view).

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(Image credit: Future)(Image credit: Future)(Image credit: Future)(Image credit: Future)

Google News is hyper-aware of fake and contested news and cares deeply about expertise and sources. How do I know? Google News insists on showing you “Suggested Sources” and a whole “Fact Check” section. The latter is so poorly designed I often can’t tell whether the “Facts” presented are false or not.

Visually, Bing News wins by a mile. I just don’t enjoy looking at the pale pastel Google News colors anymore and miss the stark, clear look of 2006 or even the OG Google News. I like the consistency of Bing News and that, in general, it’s not trying too hard.

There’s no Bing News app and even if you download the Bing app it basically hides Bing News under “Trending.” It’s in the mobile space that Google News almost outperforms Bing. Almost.

Google News on mobile is full of bizarre repetition and often insists, to my chagrin, on defaulting to “For You” news and I always have to select “Headlines” so I can see less filtered news.

If I have one request for Bing and Microsoft, it’s that they bring Bing News to mobile as its own app and essentially replicate the lovely desktop experience. Then I can truly leave Google News behind.

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Early Bird