Google has introduced a free alert feature in its news section, allowing users to monitor a topic and receive e-mail notifications when news stories on that topic appear.
The Google News Alerts tool is in beta at http://www.google.com/newsalerts. Users enter a topic they want to track and can select to receive a daily notification, or bulletins as the news happens.
The alerts can be used to monitor developing news, track an industry, and get the latest information on celebrities, sports and other subjects. Alerts can be sent to any active e-mail address.
Users can also refine their topic searches through an advanced search feature, allowing them to specify recent articles or specific country news.
User reactions on a Google News Alerts discussion board set up by the company earlier this week appeared mostly positive. One user wrote that the service would allow him to deliver news quicker to readers on his news sites. As the service is still in beta, some users had questions on how to manage multiple alerts and fine tune them.
The news alert tool builds on other offerings introduced by Google over the past year, as it fights to stay ahead in the search engine race.
Rival Yahoo also has a news alert feature, which offers bulletins via e-mail, instant message or mobile device. It has also expanded its alert service so that users can select a topic by category, individual source or breaking news.
Scarlet Pruitt writes for IDG News Service