Google's after our job, using its powerful search engine technology to bring users breaking news stories.

Fortunately for UK-based hacks the service is US-centric with a dedicated North American section of the service. Google News offers world headlines as well as science and technology, health, entertainment, sports and business stories.

The service is completely automated, says product manager Marissa Mayer. It relies on the same information-ranking technology used in the popular Google search engine to deliver relevant results. The same technology is used to let users search a 28-day index of news stories.

Google News will be ad-free at introduction and the company eventually plans to license the Google News Service to other sites, Mayer says.

The news service gives a new look to Google, which has long taken a minimalist approach to web design. The site serves up photos mixed with headlines and news reports.

Mayer is at pains to point out that the seven channels refer only to the news service and is not a topic tree for searches. "In no way are we trying to become a portal," she says. However, Google executives have said they are continually evaluating new features and looking at opportunities to expand.

The front page of Google News offers headlines together with a brief story synopsis accompanied by a photo. Clicking on a headline of interest takes the user to the website from which the story was sourced. When you choose a related link, Google displays a list of stories on the same subject from competing news outlets.

"People can now pick a story and then decide the source, instead of picking a source and finding a story," Mayer says.

Google News ranks stories using three distinct criteria: how recently it was published, the volume of material on the topic and the calibre of the news outlet.

In addition to serious stories, the site has a light-hearted section called 'In the News' — an automatically generated real-time list of the most frequently reported instances of people, places and things.

The breaking news services builds on Google News Search, which became available earlier this year. It listed links to news sources and searched news sites by topic.

Competing news aggregation services have shied away from completely automated newsfeeds. Representatives of Moreover, which provides news for the AskJeeves sites, argue human evaluation is required for 100 percent accuracy when it comes to news relevance.

Phew, looks like our jobs are safe for the moment….