Google’s Keen is an AI-powered Pinterest wannabe

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Google's Keen is a Pinterest rival.
Image: Google

Every social media site puts emphasis on serving up personalized content to its users. However, some do it better than others. Think of TikTok’s immediate rise to popularity thanks to its well-picked For You page and Pinterest’s endless feed of content that is matched to users’ interests.

In a world where data is king, personalized feeds go a long way. Now, Google is trying to use its prowess in the artificial intelligence (AI) field to cash in on that trend. It recently launched Keen, an AI-powered rival to sites like Pinterest. The app allows users to curate custom feeds related to their interests and uses AI to fill them with relevant content from across the web.

A Challenger Approaches

Keen is the latest project from Google’s Area 120 team. The internal incubator is known for creating experimental apps and services. Keen is now available to users on both the web and Android. It’s co-founder, CJ Adams, says that the platform is a better alternative to “mindlessly” browsing online.

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“On Keen… you say what you want to spend more time o, and then curate content form the web and people you trust to help make that happen,” he writes in a blog post. “You make a ‘keen,’ which can be about any topic, whether it’s baking delicious bread at home, getting into birding or researching typography. Keen lets you curate the content you love, share your collection with others and find new content based on what you have saved.”

If that sounds a lot like Pinterest that’s because it is. Keen is trying to draw in users who appreciate the other platform’s pinboard-style visual design. However, rather than projecting itself as a service for the hobby-focused crowd, Keen wants to be for everyone.

Harnessing AI

Catching up with a platform as well-known as Pinterest is a daunting task. Google doesn’t mind, though. It has an ace up its sleeve in the form of artificial intelligence.

Adams notes, “You can start curating a keen and save a few interesting ‘gems’ or links that you find helpful. These bits of content act like seeds and help Keen discover more and more related content over time.”

The app accomplishes this thanks to Google’s unrivaled machine learning algorithms that help serve up related content in users’ feeds.

Of course, the question remains whether or not Keen will finally allow Google to break into the social space. So far, the Big Tech firm has floundered in that area with several failed attempts (yes, like Google+).

Perhaps its persistence is due to the fact that the social media space has something Google wants. As users browse and scroll through their feeds, that activity generates treasure troves of data that can be used to target ads. Since it is a leader in the ad world, it makes sense that Google wants another internal way to start generating such data.

Regardless of its future success (or failure) Keen is another great example of Google applying its AI tech to real-world applications.

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