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ZiteUpdated12-12-11

Zite is Finally here for the iPhone!!!

A few months ago I told you guys about my favorite customizable magazine App Zite. At the time it was only available on the iPad and an iPhone version was on my list of things that I wished they would have. I guess someone was paying attention to our pleas because last week Zite released an iPhone version of this wildly popular App, and it lives up every bit to it's iPad counterpart.  As I said in my review of the iPad version, this App has the best of everything. From Customizable content, to an easy to use interface, and an "auto learning" feature this is hands down the premier digital magazine on the iOS platform.

Auto Learn

Just like with the iPad App, Zite for the iPhone offers an auto learning feature for first time users. Zite asks you for access to your Twitter, and Facebook accounts to learn what you are interested in. It searches for keywords in your posts indicating what you like read and talk about. Just like anything "automatic" Zite doesn't always find everything that you're looking for. To address this, Zite allows you to customize your content by adding keywords and topics that interest you. Zite isn't the only App that allows this type of content selection, but Zite is the best by far at gathering items related to your custom topics. From Toads to Space shuttles if you can think of a topic, Zite will deliver articles about it.

Displaying the Content

One thing that i really enjoyed about the Zite for iPad App was the way in which the content was displayed. Small thumbnails with a little bit of the accompanying article displayed next to them. This format has been carried over to the iPhone version. The thumbnails are smaller, but you still get the same description (also shorter) next to them describing a little bit about what is in the article. To access your different topics (seen at the top of the iPhone screen) simple left and right swiping gestures are employed. Different articles are displayed by scrolling up and down under each topic selection.

Helping Zite Learn

Under each article you will find an intuitive "thumbs up" or "thumbs down". This is your way of telling Zite if you like the article or not. This helps Zite learn what topics you specifically like to read about, and which you don't like. The more you give your opinion, the more personalized your magazine becomes.

Share your favorites

Just like with the iPad version, Zite for iPhone allows you to share your articles with the world. The three major options are showed first. Facebook, Twitter, and Email are by far my favorite places to share the things that I've found, but if you want further options tap the more tab. This expands your options to Evernote, Google Reader, Instapaper, Pinboard, and more… Also at the top of the screen is the option to view the article on Safari, indicated by the small world icon. The third option at the top of the screen is text size and style. Don't like the way the text is displayed on your screen, you can customize is (although limited to only a couple of options).

The Bottom Line

Zite is by far my favorite digital magazine App. From the seemingly limitless content options to the easy to use interface, you can't go wrong with this App. It's always on the top of my "must have" lists when a friend asks me what Apps I recommend.

 

You can get Zite for the iPhone from the iTunes store for free here: iTunes
You can get Zite for the iPad from the iTunes store for free here: iTunes

News360

News360 Finally Finds Its Way to The iPhone

If you're anything like me, you're busy. As busy as I am I don't want to spend my time searching through all sorts of sites looking for the latest news that interests me. Admittedly I really like the Zite iPad News Reader App on the iPad platform. I have been hoping for an iPhone version to read my content in both places but unfortunately they haven't launched the iPhone version yet. With no iPhone version, I started using News360 to keep up with the latest news and headlines.

Features You'll Love

News360 is a feature rich App that provides thousands of different content sources from which to pull its content. One of the biggest, and best features contained within News360 is the manner in which it figures out what you want to read. Sure, you have the option to manually select the content that you would like to see. News, Auto, technology etc., but the developers have come up with a much faster way to get deeper integration with what you really want to read about. You are presented with the option to connect to multiple sites where you already have accounts to let News360 search for the content that you prefer. The options are Facebook, Google+, Evernote, Twitter, and Google Reader. News 360 searches through each of these services to find exactly what you are interested in and provides like content. In a few seconds it does automatically what it would take literally hours for a user to do manually. It's a real time saver.

Another feature that I really like on News360 is the offline content feature. Save articles to read later even when you're offline. News360 saves the article to your (free) News360 account and to all of your devices with the App installed. This is great for when I don't have a signal, such as in an airplane, a subway, etc. Speaking of the News360 account, it allows you to sync your preferences and content selection across all of your platforms. This is a really nice feature. Sign up once, on one device to setup your content, then just sign in on your other devices to transfer your content to them. Very seamless, very easy.

Topics are broken down into sections, Gadgets, Software, Computers, etc. Under each section there are multiple stories presented for each topic. The topics are totally customizable by the user. For example I didn't see an "iPhone" topic after the initial automatic content loading so I added my own. If there is one area where News360 falls behind it is in this category. I searched for "iPhone Apps" but got a "no results found" message in return. Also under my user generated iPhone category there seems to be less stories than in the other automatically generated sections. This I found to be a little limiting because these are topics that I am quite interested in. 

 

The bottom line

For all around information on most any subject, News360 does a great job. It allows you to sync and read the same content no matter what mobile platform you are on, and it is user customizable. To me this makes News360 a staple in my News Folder on both my iPad and iPhone.

 

You can get News360 for the iPhone from the iTunes store for free here:  iTunes
You can get News360 for teh iPad from the iTunes store for free here:      iTunes

Zite

Zite A Personalized Magazine for the iPad

The other day I was having lunch with David Ziser and he was going on about his favorite new iPad App, Zite. After hearing him talk about how much he liked it and how it blew the competitors away, I figured I should try it.  Zite is a customizable magazine App for the iPad. Not the first of it's kind but definitely the best. With custom content addition, auto learning, and an awesome interface this is my new favorite Magazine App.

 

Auto learning

The first thing that struck me as different about Zite was it's auto learn feature. Not really auto learning so much as it takes your interests from either Twtter, or Google reader (whichever you decide to log in with) and creates custom content for you. You don't have to sign in with these services to to use Zite however. You can skip this step and choose your content categories manually.  I signed in with my Twitter account and Zite determined that I like Gadgets, Macs, Photography, Social media, technology, etc.. All of these things were correct. I was thoroughly impressed with this feature, and could have spent hours reading up on the content that it provided without and addition input from me.

 

Choosing More Content

While the auto learning feature did an outstanding job of picking categories and content that I enjoy, there were still a few things that I wanted to add from their list of sections. Doing so was easy. At the bottom of the sections list on the right side of the screen is a customize option. You are then presented with a list of different popular categories. I added Fashion (something that I want to keep up on for fashion photography), and Sports.

The second part of adding more content is adding custom content. Under the same "customize" option on the right side of the screen you find a "enter your own" box. This box allows you to type your own content interest and search it. I added Adobe, Photoshop, iPad, iPhone, iOS Apps etc.

Quality User Interface

One of the nicest parts of this App is the user interface. It has a distinctive magazine feel to it. Articles are laid out in Top Stories format (all topics mixed up), or by section. Choosing a specific section will get you expanded content on that particular topic that may or may not be covered in the Top Stories section. The transition between articles is smooth and the page turns are precise and handled well within the App. There aren't a lot of unneeded buttons or tabs to clutter the screen. Zite has done a wonderful job with this setup.

Conclusion

The auto learning feature, coupled with the ability to add custom content, combined with the slick user interface makes this my new favorite custom magazine App.

You can get Zite for the iPad from the iTunes store for free here:  iTunes

Mashable

Mashable! For iOS

Since 2005 Mashable.com has been the go to news source for me about technology, social media, startups, and gadgets. When I got my first iOS device Mashable! was one of the first Apps I went looking for. I thought I loved Mashable! before, but the iOS App, particularly the iPad version is THE best way to view the content from the site.

The UI is Made With You in Mind

The user interface of the Mashable! App is designed with the end user in mind. The default content view is ALL when you fire up the App. Because the App is iOS4+ compatible it will "remember" what section you were in if the App is just running in the background. I prefer the All view because they have such a wide array of content I'm afraid that I would miss something important if I were constantly viewing content in just one section. The content sections are divided into 11 different tabs. Each well thought out and containing content worthy of it's very own area. The titles range from social media to startups. If it's important in the world of technology, they cover it.

Other Sections

There is an "Other Sections" area of the Mashable! App that I find very useful. The first tab is Trending. This includes just what you would expect, the trending, or popular articles on Mashable!. I like this section because content is constantly being updated on the App and sometimes I miss it. If it was a particularly good article, or something that was really important, it will be in the trending articles.

The Lists tab holds exactly what you would expect. Mashable! is always creating lists for it's viewers. So many in fact that they need their own section. These lists will reside under the main topic that their content places them in, but the Lists tab will house all of them. These lists range from "8 tips for nailing your next startup job interview", to "57 new digital media resources you may have missed".  I love lists. I love this section

We've all read how to articles. Wouldn't it be nice if you could find all of your favorite how to tech articles in one place? With the Mashable App you can! The how to's range from job interviews, App creation, business, etc. Pretty much anything you can think of in the tech or social media world, they have a how to for it.

The next two tabs are great resources. They are Twitter, and Facebook guidebook's. Everything you need to know about Facebook and Twitter is housed in these guidebooks. The best part about these guidebooks is their fluidness. If things change on Facebook or Twitter(they always are) the guides change. Great resources.

The last two sections aren't all that useful to me. The announcements, and Twitter List Directory tabs just don't usually hold a whole lot of content that I'm interested in. The Twitter List Directory didn't even work for me the last time I clicked on it, so I really don't find it useful. ;)

 

Conclusion

Chances are if you're reading this blog you're a tech person. At the very least you're interested in what's going on in the world of mobile devices. There is so much good content to take in on Mashable! that this a "must have" App. There's a reason it made the Top 100 of the year list.

 

You can get Mashable! for the iPhone from the iTunes store for free here:  iTunes
You can get Mashable! for the iPad from the iTunes store for free here:  iTunes

zinio

Magazines Delivered to your iPad or iPhone with Zinio

Although I don't read books very often, I do love to read magazines when I travel. One of my favorite magazines is Macworld. It's one of the few that I look forward to each month. I have a subscription to the printed version, but I'm excited to see it now on my iPad via the Zinio App. I tried out the Free issue first and now I'm hooked. I'm seriously considering subscribing to this electronic version. One advantage the electronic version would have is that I would't have to wait until I got home to get the latest issues. As soon as its available I could download it no matter where I am in the world and start reading it. 

Navigation and zooming

Navigating the pages is done by swiping and you can pinch to zoom in and out just as you would expect. The screen refresh is really fast and responsive on the iPad. The pages also auto adjust for either portrait and landscape viewing. It also remembers where you left off if you leave the app. Definitely a GREAT experience for reading.

Buy one issue or subscribe

Just like in the printed world, you can use Zinio to buy or try a single issue of a magazine or you can subscribe and have it delivered electronically each time its published. 

There are two things that will keep Zinio from being a total smash hit. One is the number of available titles. They're bringing on more titles all the time, but it may be hard finding some of your favorite magazines. The second and probably bigger problem is the price. As you can see above Zinio charges $6.99 for a single issue of Macworld and $19.97 for a subscription. The subscription price is not bad at all (it's the same as the printed version though), but the single issue price is killer. Keep in mind that there is no printing here, yet they are charging as much as a printed issue. You do get the entire issue including the Ads. But wait, aren't the Ads supposed to pay for the printing? Don't get me wrong, I actually would rather have the exact same layout as I get in print, but you're paying the same price as you would for the printed issue, so it would almost seem that the advertisers are getting a bonus here.  Perhaps they price their advertising accordingly. However, it would be nice to have an option to turn off the ads if you didn't want to see them.

You can get Zinio here from the App Store: Zinio Magazine Newsstand & Reader

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