Google Takes The Wraps Off Keen, An AI-Powered Pinterest Rival

Google has an Area 120 team and no they are not tasked with dealing with an invasion by little green men from the other side of our galaxy! The Area 120 team is instead focused on putting together a slew of innovative and experimental apps and the like that solve some human problems, alien attack, and dismemberment not included! Unfortunately, many of the team’s creations end up as duds in just about every way.

Now, the team has just launched an app known as Keen. The new app appears to be a sort of Pinterest copycat and will employ Google’s machine learning grunt to curate topics and suggest new related topics. Keen was launched recently to little fanfare and is currently available for download and use on Android and the web. Here are some pictures coming straight from their website.

Mindless Browsing Gone At Last!

Keen according to co-founder CJ Adams will provide a pretty and viable alternative to folks who are currently forced to “mindlessly” browse online feeds, learning nothing and turning their brains to jelly. The idea for Keen arose when Adams and his wife essentially wasted hours browsing through the nonsense so often found on social media, valuable hours they won’t be getting back again.

Adams took the time to pen his thoughts in a blog post, giving us all some insight into the new app, how it works and the magic it could potentially do in our lives. He wrote:

“On Keen which is a web and Android app, you say what you want to spend more time on, and then curate content from the web and people you trust to help make that happen.” “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.”

Not Very Keen Are We?

Pundits seem to be agreed that the above quote from the mind of CJ Adams does not provide much to get excited over. First, as of now, just about every social media feed, from Facebook to Instagram is hard at work personalizing their content to the tastes of their users. Secondly, Pinterest already has the hobby-focused market firmly in its grasp, aided by its simple and yet delightfully novel pinboard-loving visual design, which the new Keen app from Google is set to copy.

Given the above, it well might seem that Keen is dead in the water before it had even had the opportunity to make a big splash. But that is not the case at all. For one, Keen will make full use of Google’s undoubted expertise and leverage in machine learning. CJ Adams was quoted as saying this would provide “helpful content related to your interests.”

He had more to say on the topic: “Even if you’re not an expert on a topic, 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 above sounds great, except that Pinterest which Google aims to take on has been heavily investing in AI too, perfecting its operations as it were. Moire, while machine learning can always help discover patterns in data where humans see noise, it is not always the be-all and cure-all that most suppose it is.

Google Is One Keen Fella

The extent of benefits to Google in terms of user data that an app like Keen can provide is unclear as of the present. Google has been furiously working to enter the social space in a big way but has been frustrated at every turn. Succeeding at such an endeavor will grant it access to endless terabytes of user data that it can use for targeted ads that will bring it truckloads of moolah. 

An app like Keen just might be the magic bullet it needs to achieve its major social space breakthrough and get the money rolling in. It also seems likely that data Keen collects will be merged with data that Google already has on users, which is excessive in our humble opinion.

Anyway, it sure is nice to see Google using its machine learning expertise in ways most of us little expected. Google has been busy using this system in a diverse range of applications. We are quite fond of those that aim to get folks interested in useful hobbies that help make them better humans.

Could be this be the start of a new and more humane Google? Only time will tell, brethren!

In the meantime, roll out the red carpet for Keen if you will!

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