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First Look: ZenNews brings the news cloud to your iPhone


Zensify announced its latest app, ZenNews [iTunes link], this morning. It's basically an intelligent news aggregator, using algorithms to find "what's hot" from a variety of sources including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Al Jazeera, the Guardian and more. It parses Twitter and other social mediums to figure out who's talking about what, and then creates a tag cloud of hot topics. There's an aggregated view combining all sources, or you can view a tag cloud for each source. You can toggle sources and/or categories on and off in the preferences.

If a keyword in the tag cloud reveals more than 5 articles, tapping it will drill down into another tag cloud, repeated until the keyword returns a list of 5 or fewer articles. View articles within ZenNews using the built-in webkit browser, or open them in Safari. You can always switch from the tag cloud to a list view for any page, and there's a default view titled "All News" which lists all the aggregated news (in list format) at once. You can drill down to specific topics in the Categories view, and see what's new/hot from all enabled sources for a single category. As you read, you can mark any article as a favorite, and view a list of your marked articles in the Favorites view. You can quickly share articles via Twitter or email, as well.

It's all quite slick, and pretty solid for a first release. I did run into a bug which would bring up blank tag cloud pages if a specific combination of being on a certain view and losing a network connection at the right time occurred. I spoke with the developers yesterday, and I'm confident they'll smooth out any wrinkles quickly.

Zensify is offering ZenNews for free. Their plan is to demonstrate the buzz-detecting algorithms, and then offer white-label versions -- using a subscription model -- to companies with a need for up-to-the-minute buzz tracking. For the rest of us, this is a good-looking and, as far as I've been able to tell, accurate way to see what's happening in the world at any given moment. Check out the gallery below for a preview, and grab a copy on the App Store.

Gallery: First Look: ZenNews | 11 Photos

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