Tuesday, September 25, 2012

App Review: Zite

I attended a Digital Writing Conference last week and walked off with a few good app ideas. The one I've use the most so far is Zite. If you are a fan of web-based readers, you need to check it out. It's free and really easy to use.

When you open Zite, it starts by asking you to check different categories that you enjoy. It also allows you to integrate with your Twitter or Facebook accounts. Once you make all your selections, it sends you to your personalized magazine. There's a handy section guide on the sidebar to quickly navigate to your favorites. Or you can simple swipe left to reveal stories. Find one you like? Press on it and it takes you to the article for more information.

Zite gives you some great personalization options. Inside articles, you can choose whether or not you liked reading the story. You can find more information about the topic or the publication. And you can share the article via Twitter, Facebook, Pocket, Instapaper, Delicious, Evernote, Google Plus, or email. Lots of options.

If you are fan of Flipboard, you might be turned off by the simple interface. But I like the ability to easily see articles and navigate to ones I want to read. It's a neat app, so check it out.

iOS 6 - To update or not?

Most people were pretty excited to learn about the new update to iOS 6 that came out last week. I admit that I would have been much more excited if I owned an iPhone 4s/5 or the new iPad. Sure, there are some cool things in the new software. The offline reader in Safari is neat. The "do not disturb" function could be useful from time to time. The system app and iTunes looks different. I guess if I bought tickets to events, then the Passbook app would be useful. The shared Photo Stream capability is pretty cool, especially for busy parents. And there's a new clock.

But the biggest change when you move to iOS 6 is what's missing. Because of the well-publicized feud between Apple and Google, you will no longer find the handy YouTube app or Google Maps on your iPad: if you update. Instead, Apple replaced those popular features with its own maps and no YouTube app.

For me, having the YouTube app missing is no big deal. I'm not a big YouTuber. You can easily access YouTube through Safari or Chrome or any other web browser. After doing a bit of research, I was pointed to an app called Jasmine. It's a nice app that connects you to YouTube content. And it's free, so that's nice.

Losing Google Maps will be the bigger blow. I don't do much traveling, so for me, it's not going to be that huge. But I've already heard from people who have been left without direction because of Apple's primitive maps. One media specialist said her husband was lost in Canada for two hours. Canada? OK, primitive might be a strong word, but Google has been doing its map-thing for a decade.

So should you upgrade? If you are worried about losing those two big things, then maybe not. If you are a user of iWorks (Pages, Keynote, Numbers, iMovie), then you probably will have to upgrade to use those apps eventually. But I foresee a large number of Apple users who are going to be pretty upset by this change and wait until Google releases a new Maps and YouTube app.