Holy Crap, Zite is AWESOME!!! . . . and other observations

Discussion in 'iPad Apps' started by mossman, Apr 14, 2011.

  1. mossman
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    mossman iPF Novice

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    Only a few months ago, Flipboard was released and hailed as one of the best apps for the iPad. In that program, you can select articles from different sources such as RSS feeds, websites such as the Economist and Facebook, as well as other special interest topics, and then see all of that displayed in a fairly attractive magazine format. It’s a pretty cool way to gather your interests in one place, encapsulated in attractive squares on the contents page. Not to mention the actual launch screen which takes sometimes average looking pictures from these feeds and somehow makes them look spectacular (as in Guardian Eyewitness spectacular).​


    But Flipboard has its limitations. First, each stream is treated independently from the other, so you have to do a lot of touching and flicking to go between content. And when you read an article, that can involve a series of swipes as well. That may not sound like much, but the effect was a real drag on the experience. Over the past few months I would go into the app just because I was still awed by how cool it was, but didn’t find myself actually reading much from it.​


    Then I heard about Zite. Zite advertises itself as a personal magazine. You can take your RSS feeds from either Google or Twitter to populate the magazine, or select from pre-determined categories. In that sense, it’s similar to Flipboard, except that Facebook is not an option. The app then takes those sources and makes a magazine out of those feeds which updates throughout the day. It’s structured in a slick manner like Flipboard, but in a simpler, more user friendly format which encourages reading.​


    Now here’s the cool part. You can give each article you read a thumbs up or down, and the app will record that to help guide future editions. In other words, the app will learn in greater detail about what you like, and make the magazine even more customized to you. Further, it will not only pull from the sources you indicate, but it will gather similar articles from other sources as well. So you’re getting the news and info you want, but are also exposed to articles outside of those feeds.​


    The articles are easier to access and read than in Flipboard. Touch a headline, which often is a combination of a picture, the lead text, and the article source, and you have the whole article before you. Most of the time that’s in the app itself, sometimes it takes you to a webpage, but once you’re there, there is nothing to do but scroll down. And with one touch of a button you are back to where you were in the magazine. Oh, and by the way, it’s integrated with an Instapaper button!​


    It’s not all perfect. The opening screen isn’t as attractive as Flipboard (sometimes I open that app just to see the title screen – seriously). Even though a particular article from a particular feed only appears once, articles are often repeated across the internet, and that’s reflected in Zite. One time I saw the same basic article appear 5 times. And although the app is free, at some point it will feature ads which may change the experience.​


    But then again, the ads could enhance to the experience as well, making it feel more like a magazine. This would be especially cool if the ads took the space of an article and not in a pop up screen where you would have to wait for it to play out before resuming to scan the content. And the ads could be both stills and video imbedded in the magazine. So it would be like reading an actual magazine, except that some of the ads would be videos (Harry Potter anyone?). If done right, the ads might actually enhance the experience.​


    So I like Zite a lot. It’s one of those apps which reminds you how exciting and cutting edge the iPad is. To coin an overused phase, Zine is one of those “killer†apps which make that “magical†quote when the iPad launched seem not quite as silly as it first appeared.​
  2. richsadams
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    richsadams iPad Super Guru

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    Zite sounds interesting but frankly apps that "learn" about me, my habits, what I like, don't like and so on scare the daylights out of me. Not because I think they'll get it wrong...or right...or that I have something to hide or otherwise, but because that information is domiciled somewhere, could easily be sold to someone else or worse, fall into the wrong hands. I know enough of that is going on without my knowledge, but I'd just as soon keep it to a minimum whenever possible. If I can remain "anoymous" for the most part I might give it a try.

    BTW, do you work for the developer? If not, you might was to get your CV/resume to them! ;)
  3. tzimisce
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    tzimisce iPad Addict

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    I've tried Zite but didn't like it. The 'learn as you go' functionality wasn't as smart as it was made out to be, so I've removed it.
  4. Mtnmedic
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    Mtnmedic iPad Junkie

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    I love Zite. Nothing to be afraid of. It does not request any information from you other than your selection of topics you're interested in, which can be anything and is editable at anytime. It learns what you like by asking you to indicate if enjoyed (or not) what you just read (this not a Facebook "like", by the way). It also gives you the option to skip that yes/no and request "more from" the source of that story (identified). Totally voluntary. Then it will try to show you more articles similar to the ones you liked and less similar to ones you didn't. Mostly fine-tunes what you read in your favorite topics. It's an aggregator of sorts that pulls from lots of good sources and the format/UI is quite nice. I get the news I want to read and nothing I have no interest in. Think of it as your custom news magazine (its tagline is "Your personalized magazine"). It seems pretty accurate to me in its "learning". I read a lot of astronomy and space science stuff, so I can be rather picky about what stories I get in my favorite topics. Very nicely done. Give it a try.

    Michael "Spam, spam, bacon, eggs and spam. Hold the bacon and eggs." Sent from my iPad 2 using iPF
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2011
  5. Hasty
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    Hasty iPad Ninja

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    Take a look at taptu.
  6. rchatburn
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    rchatburn iPF Novice

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    Google knows more about you than zite ever could.
    I like zite it does come up with some interesting articles that I wouldn't have found on my own, I still prefer flipboard but that's just me.

    Sent from my HTC Desire
  7. mossman
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    mossman iPF Novice

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    When I really like something I like to give detailed reasons why, so sometimes I worry that I will be accused of working for the company that made whatever I am advocating. And I've actually have been accused of that before. But no, I'm just a finance professional in the healthcare industry.
  8. richsadams
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    richsadams iPad Super Guru

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    Only if one uses Google. ;)
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