Upgrade Happiness – Zite

When I got my first iPad as a thank you gift for a presentation, I remember being told that I need to install a particular application on it.  Try it and you’ll see why the iPad changes everything, including reading.  Now, the people giving me the gift knew that I was a big reader and so I took their advice and really liked it.  Flipping your way through stories was indeed a different approach to news reading.

Inspired by this first application, I download all kinds of news reading applications as I became aware of them.  After all, how do you know until you try them.  There was one commonality to them though – they needed to know what feeds I wanted to read.  It’s not a big deal; I’ve been an RSS reader from the moment I figured out what RSS meant and configured Google Reader to bring in the content.  I still do that today.

I was happily going on my way reading my RSS feeds and sometimes getting a little bored.  Many of the sources that I’d read were covering many of the same stories of the day just with a different author.  After a while, it started to become a challenge to find the new stories and not just repeats of others.

Until Zite came along.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know it’s part of my morning routine.  Things aren’t just right unless I have a coffee and my morning reading/learning/sharing session.  

Why did I make Zite the morning ritual?

Unlike an RSS reader, Zite pays attention to what I’m reading.  If I like a story and share it or like it in the client, it goes out and finds me more of the same type of stories.  I’m not on the hook for finding the feeds that I like to read.  I have a whack of categories defined like Education, Elearning, Ubuntu, Microsoft, Google, Apple, Programming, Blogging, Samsung Galaxy, and much more.  

All I need to do is turn on my iPad, wait a few seconds, and I’m good to go.  Zite seems to determine the “Best of the Best” and puts them in my “Top Stories” and away I go.  There are some mornings where flipping through the 10 or more pages is enough.  When I’ve got more time, I’ll actually go into the individual categories for deeper reading within the topic areas.  As I’ve noted previously in this blog, I demonstrated shared reading with my university class using Zite and its ability to post to Twitter.  I still make it part of my morning routine as I’ve found that it generates discussions and interactions with others on a daily basis and that’s always a good thing.

The program itself is a very good actor.  I don’t recall it ever locking up or crashing.  It just works.  The only determining factor is the painfully slow internet connection that I have here.  When I run Zite on my Galaxy with LTE or if I’m at a hotel with quality internet, it just screams.

How could it get any better?

I awoke this morning to a notification that there was an upgrade to Zite 2.0 waiting to be accessed.  Sigh.  Probably another application needed for a bug fix or something for the newest iPad.  I downloaded it and loaded it to get my morning fix.  

On first launch, there was a tutorial stepping me through the various features of the program.  Normally, I’m a discoverer and I find things like that kind of annoying.  I seemed to be stuck as there was no visible way of getting out of it so I stepped through kind of paying half attention to things until I got to the opening screen.

Hey, things have changed – this isn’t just another .001 upgrade!

Upon opening my first story and noticing that there was a more effective use of screen real estate, I knew that I was on to something.

Playing around, I noticed that each story was movable and you could immediately tell Zite to get more stories like that.  Each story has a category in the bottom right corner and that opens a new screen of stories related to that category.  Like it?  The little heart at the top of the screen adds to your list of categories.  Within minutes, I’d added a few more categories and then forced myself to stop.  I’m going to have to be judicious in my use of this or I’ll never get through the morning.

The whole Exploration page provides even more suggestions with the suggestion that connecting Twitter, Facebook, Pocket, and Google Reader could generate even more reading based upon your social activity.  I’m really liking this.

I kind of wish now that I’d paid more attention to the opening tutorial.  But, all of the changes are available for a read on the Zite Blog.

I could go on and on talking about the virtues of Zite.  A better suggestion is to download it for your device (or upgrade if you have the previous version) and get to reading.  Please don’t forget to share what you’ve found relevant.  We all benefit when you do.

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