Google unveiled a new open source initiative today that it’s calling the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project.
The name kind of spells out the concept: The AMP Project is supposed to result in web pages, particularly news articles, that load more quickly. To achieve this, AMP publishers will follow a technical specification for faster pages, and there will be an option to serve the articles from Google’s cache.
Re/code had previously reported (correctly) that Google was working with Twitter on an open source initiative for faster-loading mobile articles. The report suggested that this would be a competitor to Facebook’s Instant Articles and other news distribution formsp, but when Google’s head of news Richard Gingras was asked about Facebook today, he said the project “is about making sure the world wide web is not the world wide wait — that’s where we’re focused.”
Earlier in the presentation, however, David Besbris, Google’s vice president of engineering for search, acknowledged that nowadays, when users are reading web pages, it’s often in the context of mobile applications. That’s probably not the best situation for Google, who’d prefer that you load those pages in the browser, after you find them through search.
One reason that’s happened, Gingras said, is that many web pages are “not fully satisfying users’ expectations” — they load too slowly. AMP-optimized pages, on the other hand, should load instantly.
“Anything less than instant simply shows a degradation, a decline in engagement,” Gingras said.
So to make articles load instantly, do publishers just strip out all the crap that slows down many existing websites? Besbris said there’s more to it.
“There’s an awful lot that is in the model, in the framework, to make sure that it’s not just a really great web page, but also that it can be distributed really well — that it can be prerendered, for example,” he said.
Google said it’s not fully launching the AMP Project today, so you won’t find it on regular Google search. Instead, the company’s launching a developer preview, with a GitHub repository for the open source code.
Partners joining Google at today’s event include Vox Media, La Stampa, Buzzfeed, The Washington Post and Twitter.
In Twitter’s case, that means AMP pages will support embedded tweets and Vines. Twitter Product Manager Michael Ducker said that for now, AMP links will open just like any other link in Twitter’s apps, which won’t have any unique support for AMP. Ducker said the company is “really excited about the experience of using these links,” but he also said it will “iterate,” so we could see more integration in the future.
While this was a publisher-heavy event, Gingras said that “a key objective here is to create a deal-less environment.” So the companies on-stage have “no relationship … except that we serve a common objective of getting this right.”
Publishers won’t need a relationship with Google to participate in AMP. In fact, Gingras said that AMP pages won’t automatically be ranked above non-optimized pages in Google search — though it should help indirectly, since AMP improves load times.
“There are many signals we use in generating results,” he said. “One signal we use is indeed performance. What approach the publisher takes to achieve performance is up to them.”