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article imageGoogle brings Snapchat Stories to the web through its AMP scheme

By James Walker     Feb 13, 2018 in Technology
Google's announced an expansion of its AMP website format. It will allow publishers to create tap-through mobile "stories" akin to those found on Snapchat. Google said it's tailoring the experience to develop a format for communicating news information.
Announced by the company today, AMP Stories are now available in developer preview form to websites already using AMP. The technology is Google's controversial solution for creating performant mobile webpages. AMP Stories will be available to all publishers and are being released as a "free and open" experience.
At launch, Google's partnered with sites including CNN, Conde Nast, Mashable, Vox Media and The Washington Post to build the first AMP stories. They're supposed to deliver "immersive" stories to mobile readers across a range of content categories. The concept is built on the success of stories on social media and uses an interface that will be familiar to Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook users.
Stories display in a carousel that can be tapped to immediately display the next item. Each piece of content is presented as a full-screen image. Stories can also include passages of text, videos and animated GIFs and stickers. Publishers can pick from a library of "flexible" layouts and add interaction mechanisms such as buttons and other UI components.
According to Google, AMP Stories is meant to make it easier for publishers to develop engaging web content that's performant on mobile devices. It's the next step in the company's AMP ecosystem, a set of technologies designed to make it simpler to build fast-loading webpages.
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However, Google's widely seen to be using AMP as a predatory way to lock publishers into its ecosystem. AMP sites get prioritised in search results above their non-AMP counterparts. They're also optimised for Google and loaded from Google servers, enabling the company to carve out its own niche on the web which is somewhat comparable to Facebook's platform.
Today Google said AMP is merely intended to make the mobile web more accessible to developers, claiming small publishers face challenges in building high-performance content.
"The mobile web is great for distributing and sharing content, but mastering performance can be tricky," said Google. "Creating visual stories on the web with the fast and smooth performance have users have grown accustomed to in native apps can be challenging. Getting these key details right often poses prohibitively high startup costs, particularly for small publishers."
AMP Stories are available from today but only on mobile browsers. You can search for them from Google's homepage and they'll show up in results from major publishers. Google said it plans to expand the format over time, surfacing AMP Stories in more of its products.
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