Zite's personalized news app is now available for iPhone. Images: Zite
You may best know Zite as a personalized iPad magazine that learns from your interests to intelligently provide you with just the right content. The app has now been repackaged for the iPhone to deliver a similar customized experience on the small screen.
Zite learns your preferences in a variety of ways. Within the app itself, it pays attention to what you click on, and which stories receive your thumbs up and thumbs down. Content is sucked down from your Twitter stream, Google Reader, and Read It Later, as well as from a wide range of subject categories the app suggests for you, and that you can add yourself.
“Personalization is key to news discovery,” Zite CEO Mark Johnson said in a statement. “But, as soon as you have personalization on one device, you want your personalization to become ubiquitous.”
The iPad app is primarily aimed at users who want to browse content as if they were reading a newspaper or magazine — you see large headlines, graphics, and samplings of the stories therein. The new iPhone app streamlines that experience so you can easily pick out the top headlines and trends of the day in your favorite topic areas (which for me include things like “Mac News,” “Technology,” and “Robots”).
I’ve been using the final test version of the app for the past few days, and I found that it strikes a pleasant balance between a straight RSS reader and a more visually focused, magazine style app like Flipboard. It provides a strong mix of news that falls within my range of interests, but wouldn’t necessarily find myself, and is a welcome way to receive my daily doses of information.
The app features a scrolling wheel of page and category titles at the top of the screen: Accounts, Sections, Top Stories, and your selected category titles (which can be chosen or edited underneath the Sections header). You can flick this wheel, or swipe sideways anywhere on the page, to navigate from one section to another.
Each section page features article titles from a variety of different sources that pertain to that topic, along with small, thumbnail images. The Top Stories page is structured the same way, but houses articles from across all of the section topics that Zite thinks you’ll find interesting.
Once you click on an article you’d like to read, the app either renders the article as easy-to-read, reformatted text, or it takes you to the publication’s website in an in-app browser. Each article page has a thumbs-up button, a thumbs-down button, a back button, and a button for sharing articles via email, Twitter, Facebook, or other sources.
My only quibble with the app is that once in the text of an article, you have to hit the back button to get back to the section page. I would prefer a more elegant way to bounce from article to article rather than returning to the section page.
If you already have a Zite account, you can sign in, and all of the preferences from the iPad app will be loaded up on the iPhone version. Otherwise you can set up your account after downloading the app.
Zite for iPhone is free, and should be available in the App Store now.