Monday, March 14, 2011


The Zite app has won a coveted spot on my iPad's home screen.  It's only a few days old and quickly became my most-used app.  I spend anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or more a day in Zite.

So what is Zite and why do I love it?  The app is described as "a personalized magazine."  The personalization comes from your Twitter account and/or Google Reader feeds.  I configured Zite to pull from both on my iPad.

Zite pays attention to what you read and suggests more articles in those same areas.  The more you use it the more it learns about you.

I gave up trying to stay up-to-date on all the RSS feeds I'd gathered over the years but Zite is a great way to dip back into that stream.  I know I'm not catching all the feeds but I'm reading from them a lot more than I used to and it feels like I'm coming across significantly more relevant content than I did using an RSS reader.

Zite is terrific but far from perfect.  It tends to be slow and often refreshes itself when it probably doesn't need to.  If it just checked my feeds 3 minutes ago there's really no need for it to refresh them again now.  This should be a user-configurable setting not something that automatically happens all the time.

My bigger complaint has to do with the customization options for new content sections.  There's a box where you can "enter your own" section but that's misleading.  In Google News I have a bunch of custom sections set up to search for specific phrases.  You can't get that granular with Zite.  If your search string isn't one of their existing sections you're out of luck.  That means I still have to use Google News to track all these other items.  I hope they'll let you create truly customized sections in a future release.  It's a huge opportunity to make this an even more compelling app.

Zite is a must-have app for pretty much everyone.  Best of all, it's totally free.  I wouldn't be surprised to see them offer a premium version for pay.  Heck, if they'd add that full custom section feature I'm looking for I'd be more than happy to pay $5 or even $10 for this one.  Highly recommended.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Why I'm Sticking with iPad 1.0

I couldn't be happier about Apple's iPad 2 announcement.  I was worried they were going to show so many killer features I'd have to spend at least $500 upgrading.  Whew.  Thankfully for me and my bank account, I consider this new product more like iPad 1.1 than iPad 2.

Thinner?  Nice.  Dual cameras?  Don't need 'em.  Smart covers?  Need 'em even less.  iOS 4.3?  I'll take it, but I don't have to upgrade the hardware to get it.

Honestly, I've been wrestling with the notion of switching from Apple to Android in a few months and I was sweating the thought of having to upgrade my iPad so soon.  My iPhone contract is up in June and everyone I know who has switched from iPhone to Android seems to love the latter.  Now I can wait till this summer, knowing both my iPhone and iPad will be more than a year old and I won't guilty about switching so soon after a major purchase.

I am looking forward to iOS 4.3 though.  iTunes Home Sharing will be nice.  I've purposely kept all my music off my iPad so that I'd have more memory for videos, books and apps.  As a result, there have been countless times when I've sat down to read, wanting to listen to some background music but couldn't.  When iOS 4.3 hits I'll be able to just stream all that music from my Mac.  Nice.  I'm also looking forward to the new version of Safari that comes with 4.3.  Then there's the ability to customize the side switch's function.  Like many, I never understood why Apple decided to take a dedicated screen lock button and turn it into a mute one instead.  It's so easy to just turn the volume all the way down with the rocker switch, why take away my ability to quickly lock the screen orientation?  I'm glad they're righting that wrong with iOS 4.3 and letting the user decide what the button should do.

Finally, if you haven't already seen it, be sure to watch the hilarious short iPad 2 ad from Conan O'Brien: