Rediff.com, the popular Indian news, information, entertainment, and shopping portal has come out with an interesting real-time news search service, aptly named as Rediff RealTime News which is aimed to deliver fresh, recent results relating to news, people and events as it happens.
Rediff RealTime News is currently in beta and is in invite-only mode. I was given a special invite to preview the service and there are lot of good stuff to talk about it. And yeah, I have some invites to give away, more about it later. First, let us take a look at the RealTime news page.
Instant News Search
Rediff RealTime News is much like Google News when considering the concept, but provides a much better experience. Rediff RealTime News search implements the much acclaimed Instant search which provides latest & relevant results “as you type“. It also comes with predictive search technology, which I’ll explain a little later. Though the basic Google search comes with predictive & instant search features, the Google News section is devoid of both these features.
Indian & Global News
Rediff has always targeted Indian web users. The Rediff RealTime News service is no different. The tagline “India as it happens” makes it crystal clear. But then, it does work well for globally relevant search terms. Kalpana Banerjee, the Director, Search Program in Rediff clarifies that the focus is to provide search results pertaining to India as much as possible, but not by sacrificing the relevancy & real-time aspects.
There are around 35,000 Indian and global news websites which are being crawled by Rediff and also includes all Rediff news articles published since 2002. Unlike Google News, Rediff has very few blogs included in their sources list. By keeping the list small, Rediff is able to restrict spam to a great extent.
The homepage of Rediff RealTime News contains a search box along with the Trending news events happening now. This gives a preview of the results that you’ll get to see when you click through to the queries.
If you decide to type your own query using the search box, the predictive search kicks in and you’ll see the possible queries you are interested in. At the same time, it will retrieve and display the results of the query as shown below.
The instant search experience is truly praise-worthy. I never saw a lag during the course of my testing and wondered if it is because the service is still in beta with few hundred users right now. But Kalpana insists that they have load-tested the service, and experience will be same even with thousands of concurrent users.
For each and every query, Rediff displays images from news events associated with the query within an image unit. Hovering over the image thumbnails opens up the image in a larger mode which also displays the additional meta data such as the source, time and title. This is another cool feature missing on Google News.
Thanks to Rediff’s very own photographers, you’ll be able to enjoy the realtime feed of photographs of bollywood events and sports celebrity events which might not be available on online news websites.
We can expect Rediff to add a video section very soon.
On the right sidebar of the news search results page, you will be shown some of the related queries that are in news. This will surely help the users to explore additional news topics with just a click. I found the related queries to be pretty accurate and useful.
The interface is optimized for smartphones like iPhone & android with certain features being disabled as they believe that the small screens of mobile phones aren’t optimal for features like instant search. But on tablets like the iPad, the user experience is very similar to that on desktops. It has to be noted that Instant search will be automatically disabled on slower connections.
Invites for Rediff RealTime News
As I mentioned in the beginning, Rediff RealTime News is currently in beta and requires an invite from an existing user. I have some invites left and would love to give them away to those who are interested to try out this impressive service. Leave a comment below if you like and I’ll send out an invite to your email address.
Update: Looks like it is now open for all and you won’t need an invite to try it out.
Update 2: Rediff has officially confirmed that RealTime News is open for public but will remain in beta.