Zite 2.0 receives makeover and new content discovery features

Zite, an “intelligent magazine” that helps you discover new and interesting articles to read and also one of my favorite News apps for iOS, has received a complete makeover. From the Zite blog:

For our current fans, don’t worry: we’ve kept all of the things you love about Zite. Our underlying discovery engine still looks at millions of articles each day and create a magazine unique to you based on your personal interests. You’ll discover interesting articles to read that you would have never found otherwise. And we’ll continue to bring you the best of your favorite magazines, newspapers, authors, blogs, and videos.

Zite 2.0 is the evolution of Zite from a personalized magazine to an intelligent magazine. In Zite 2.0 we’ve focused on making Zite smarter than ever, introducing discovery at every turn, and designing Zite to be both beautiful and smart.

Cosmetically, Zite has gotten a major facelift; the page layout looks more like a magazine now (especially on the iPad) with larger images to go along with the headlines. Tags have been introduced and as a result, you can now easily jump to a different category and favorite it if desired. A new Explore page makes it easier to find your own topics or preloaded ones, like “Popular”, “Zite’s Picks” and “New & Noteworthy”. The front page, or “Your Top Stories” now includes headline news, featured topics and popular stories within Zite.

Looks aside, Zite 2.0 introduces even more content to explore. Previously, there were 2,500 categories to browse through; now there are over 40,000. They’ve even added Facebook support – simply link to your Facebook account to get automatic topic suggestions and improved personalization. One new feature I do like on the iPad is how you can now rate stories by swiping them up/down. This makes it way more intuitive when telling Zite which articles you’d like to see more (or less) of in the future.

So far, I’m a bit torn with the UI overhaul and update in general. I do like the new tagging system and expanded categories, but I’ve found that they’ve stripped out some crucial elements on the iPad (which is where I do most of my ‘Ziting”). For instance, on the old Zite app, there was a handy toolbar that lets you send the article to Evernote, Pocket, Instapaper etc. with just a tap. Now you have to tap the action button before you can do likewise. The toolbar also used to let you select various sources for “Give me more about/from…”. Not so with 2.0. Perhaps even importantly (for me anyway), you can longer close an article with a pinch gesture or by tapping in the greyed out area above and below it. Now the only way to do so is by tapping on the “X” located in the top left. Since I primarily hold the iPad mini with my left hand, I find myself constantly reaching to the top just to exit back out. Hopefully the pinch-to-close will be re-introduced in the next version.

If you’re an existing Zite user who loves the way things were before v2.0 AND haven’t upgraded yet (note that it requires iOS 6.0), I suggest you check out the Zite blog for more detailed info on what’s changed before making the jump. There’s certainly a lot of hate found in the App Store reviews of the new version, as the majority of users have voiced their displeasure with the new UI and even the redesigned Owl logo (seriously, why the Owl Zite? I liked the old one just fine). If you’re still unsure, you can always just back up the old .ipa of the Zite app before upgrading. That way, you can revert back to the way things were should you find the changes not to your liking.

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What’s New in Version 2.0

Welcome to Zite 2.0. We’ve completely reimagined Zite to be faster, smarter and more beautiful:

· New Explore page helps you find interesting topics
· Jump to topics from anywhere in Zite to find great related content
· Expanded “Your Top Stories,” including Headline News, Featured Topics and Popular Stories in Zite
· Rate stories by simply swiping them up or down (iPad only)
· Link Facebook to get automatic topic suggestions and improve your personalization
· Expansion from 2,500 to over 40,000 categories to explore

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