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Zite releases version 2 of its popular news app

Mel Martin

I've always found Zite to be the smart news aggregator I turn to first in the day. Because it learns from my choices, it gets better and better at creating a personal news magazine that has the topics I really love.

Today Zite has pushed out a thoroughly revised update with a lot of new features, and, I'm afraid, a few glitches.

First, the good. Zite has gone to 40,000 topics, 20x what the older version had. The Top Stories section has been expanded. More pages appear in that section, and the app claims to have gotten more intelligent about what goes into top stories.

Pages have been re-designed and look fine, with a clean look and nice fonts. There are now topic tags, so at the end of an article you can explore more on the subject. A Headline News module shows the most talked about headlines in news, using technology from CNN Trends. CNN now owns Zite, so it's a logical addition. There is also a 'popular on Zite' section, that tells you what Zite readers are looking at.

So what's not to like? First, the user interface has been drastically changed, and not necessarily for the better. In places, Zite's screens seem a bit busy, and some people may react negatively to this change. Zite seems a little slower than it was, especially in rendering a web page to fit in with the Zite graphic standards. I expect that will improve in coming updates.

Also, several of the features are giving me content that I haven't chosen, but others have. To me, this recommended content seems to be contrary to what Zite is supposed to be about. It's personal news. I could care less what CNN thinks is important, and if I wanted to know I would go to the CNN app. Same for what other Zite users like. I may be in the minority here, but that's my take.

Finally, there's a very welcome feature that lets you re-order your list of topics, but when I tried it on my iPad, Zite ignored many of the changes I made. It's obviously a bug, but I hope it gets fixed soon.

I really do like Zite. It's my most used news app, but I have some mixed feelings about this update. I hope the bugs are cleaned up, and that I get the option to turn off some of the non-personal news I didn't ask for. Nonetheless, I still recommend Zite. Zite was first launched in March of 2011 and there are new versions today for the iPhone and the iPad.

Gallery: Zite 2.0 sample screens | 2 Photos

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