Going App$#!t: Zite
Hi. My name is Vu and I'm a news junkie. I think this addiction has something to do with my line of work, but deep down, I think it has a lot to do with #FOMO. But, I digress.
Generally, Twitter is my go-to source for headlines, but these days it doesn't cut it for me anymore. I have the Flipboard app on my mobile phone and tablet, as well as Google's Play Newsstand (I'm an Android user). Still, I needed more. I realized that while these apps give me a lot of news content from many credible sources, often times they don't feature the news that matters to me. So, I set out to search for a news aggregator app that will meet my specific needs. A month ago I came across Zite and decided to give it a test drive, and review it for our inaugural monthly review column that focuses on apps that help us be more productive at work and home.
Unlike Flipboard and other news aggregator apps currently available that display RSS feeds from various news sources in a clean magazine format, Zite learns what you like to read and feeds you similar content. In other words, Zite does to your news consumption what Pandora does for your music listening. This is a key differentiator and it is exactly what I was looking for to help satisfy my addiction.
To test its intelligence, I started using only Zite to get my news fix and grade articles either thumb up or down that I liked and didn't like. One sure way to know whether or not Zite is feeding me the topics that I want, I went against what I truly enjoy by giving a thumb up to every Kardashians and Justin Bieber article. Within 24 hours, my "Top Stories" section, which is also the homepage, was dominated by the two topics I loathe most (see photo, above).
The good news: I was able to easily correct this conundrum by thumbing down all Kardashian and Bieber articles in my feed and thumbing up all other meaningful topics such as the economy, management, entrepreneur, politics, energy, technology, etc. Again, within 24 hours, Zite brought balance back to my news junkie universe although it did sneak in one or two articles, but I could easily ignore them.
Since I started using Zite, I haven't looked back at Flipboard and Google's Play Newsstand. But, it doesn't mean Zite is perfect. The design of the app is clean and it is easy to use, but there are formatting inconsistencies and random pop-up ads now and then, which can be annoying. Additionally, Zite makes it easy to share your favorite articles via social media and email. Click on the share button on the lower left-hand corner of the article, and you'll get all the sharing choices available on your device - Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Gmail, etc. Click one more time and the article is shared (see photo). However, sometimes the articles don't load when sharing. And finally, my last gripe about the app is it doesn't allow you to save or bookmark the articles for later reading. However, I am hopeful that all of these kinks will be ironed out when Zite is fully integrated with Flipboard as the latter announced that it has purchased the former.
Overall, Zite is a fantastic news app that every PR professional should consider using. Because it feeds articles based on your topics of interest, Zite can be a great mobile tool to help keep you on top of the news that is most relevant to your clients.