- There are more than 500 badges available to suit a wide range of topics
- On news.google.com, Google will keep track of what you read
- You can easily share your badges on your new Google+ account
(CNN) -- Reading news articles just became "gamified." With new features on Google News, reading news articles has turned into a game where readers are rewarded with news badges based on their reading habits.
"On Google News, the average reader of political news has read 20 articles about politics in the last six months. Where do you stand?" Natasha Mohanty, an engineer at Google News, wrote on that site.
Here's how you can find out. By signing into Google and clicking on news articles on news.google.com, Google will keep track of what you read.
You earn badges by reading articles on specific topics. The more you read, the more stars appear on a badge. The stars start at the Bronze level and move up to Silver, Platinum and Ultimate. There are more than 500 badges available to suit a wide range of topics.
Google's badges are private by default, meaning only you can see which awards you've won. But as soon as you are ready to start showing off how many articles you have read, you can share the badges with friends.
Like with all Google products, there is easy integration with other Google features so you can easily share your badges on your new Google+ account.
This hits on a wider trend of news sites and other apps -- like Foursquare, SCVNGR, Facebook and the like -- trying to turn life into a game.
The Huffington Post and CNN iReport also offer badge systems for readers. A company called Badgeville offers so-called gamification services to other websites, too.
Integrated into the badge system is another new feature to help readers turn news.google.com into a custom news site. After the initial setup, finding news stories you want to read may also become more convenient.
Once you have earned a badge on a specific subject, for example, you can click on the badge to create a news section on the news.google.com site populated with articles on the topic.
You can also create a personalized news experience with options that appear on the top right side of the news.google.com page. After watching an introductory video, you are given options to indicate how much news you want to receive about topics such as U.S. News, Health, Entertainment and Sports. There is even an option to add a local section.
While in the past the pressure has been on news organizations' sites to provide this sort of customization, Google News is aiming to become the ultimate source of news with these new features.
According to the Official Google Blog, the site has access to more than 50,000 sources, making news easily available in one place.
Google's blog also promises this is just the beginning. "This is just the first step -- the bronze release, if you will -- of Google News badges," Mohanty wrote in the blog post. "Once we see how badges are used and shared, we look forward to taking this feature to the next level."
So for those of you at home keeping track of buzz words and looking for the next online breakthrough, this is it. News.google.com has gamified news, created a personalized news experience and is able to recommend articles to you based on your reading habits using predictive technologies.