About Keen: Google’s AI-powered Answer to Pinterest | Hacker Noon

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Google’s potential rival to image-sharing platform Pinterest was quietly launched this summer. So, let’s take a closer look at the new app and explore where it sits in the already vast market of social media platforms.

Named Keen, the innovative new social media platform has emerged from development as a rival to Pinterest, drawing on Google’s unparalleled machine learning expertise. Initially the brainchild of CJ Adams, Keen came to fruition with help from his team at Area 120, Google’s in-house incubator that’s dedicated to developing experimental products. Together with Google’s People and AI Research team, Area 120 worked to create this cutting-edge curation platform.

What is Keen?

Available as an Android app as well as on the web, Keen helps you compile and curate content from across the internet on any chosen topic. For example, if you’d like to know more about growing vegetables from home or grouting a bathroom then you create a ‘Keen’ on that topic. Within that Keen you can store links or images that you find useful before sharing your collection with loved ones or using it as a jumping-off point to find new content.

With this technology, Google joins the likes of Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter in being able to customise social media content to your needs. Until now, Pinterest has had a monopoly on the crafting side of the market but Keen presents itself as a serious rival. Whilst still in its early days, and yet to be tested by the masses, anything with Google’s machine learning abilities behind it must stand a chance.

That isn’t to say that Pinterest doesn’t have a lot of AI power. Plus, its already massive following of engaged users is a force to be reckoned with. Converting them to a new platform will likely prove hard for Keen.

What makes Keen stand out?

Every time you use the app it builds on your interests to offer even better recommendations so the information you need is readily available. This aligns perfectly with Keen’s angle. According to founder CJ Adams, Keen’s aim is to create a place where you can nurture and grow your interests. Somewhere you can share with friends and “find things that will help in making this precious life count”.

What is Google’s role in Keen?

If Google’s goal is to encourage less scrolling time, this poses the question; how is it benefiting from Keen? Until now, Google has been unsuccessful in crossing over into social media channels. Apps such as Facebook and Instagram generate masses of data that in turn proves lucrative. So, it comes as no surprise that Google is obstinately eager to break into the industry. A content-driven platform like Keen could prove invaluable in harvesting information about users’ interests and hobbies. Whilst Keen sits separately from Google, it seems unlikely that the search engine behemoth isn’t collating the new information with existing data.

In the end, only time will tell if Google’s latest foray into the world of social media will be a success. At the moment, Keen is only in its infancy and Area 120 projects have a habit of shutting down and being reintegrated into other Google products. In the meantime, let’s relish the fact that Google is utilising its machine learning systems to help foster greater engagement in activities, interests and hobbies.


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