MSN adds new feature to take Internet’s pulse

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Microsoft is hooking up MSN.com with a hipper sidekick to broaden its appeal and stay on top of the Internet’s hottest topics.

The trend-tracking service is called “msnNOW.” It tunes into the buzz by sifting through millions of Internet searches and links circulating among the hordes on Facebook and Twitter. The chatter is then distilled into the equivalent of a digital water cooler — a place where people can go to keep in touch without taking up a lot of their time.

After months of development, the new feature debuts Thursday.

The service is primarily aimed at college-age teenagers and young adults who are increasingly relying on smartphones and other mobile devices to remain plugged into what everyone is talking about from one hour to the next.