Zite 2.3 for iOS Releases Today

Introduction

It’s been a few months since our last iOS release, so we’ve got plenty to announce with the advent of Zite 2.3:

  • We’ve made some changes to the product to serve Google Reader customers without straying from the core philosophy of Zite
  • Zite welcomes new publishers into the fold
  • New users will find their onboarding process streamlined
  • Zite’s power is in our ability to personalize news to your tastes and interests and we’ve made a number of changes to our core algorithm that will further allow you to discover great content

Let Google Reader Die

Back when the impending death of Google Reader was announced, we quickly created a solution within Zite to ameliorate the transition of Google Reader users. However, as we explored the possibility of building an alternative to Google Reader, we were reminded that we originally invented Zite to deal with the problems we saw in Google Reader. Though we know that many folks rely on Google Reader for their news, reading every single headline from many publications is an activity for very few: reporters, tech analysts, venture capitalists and news junkies. After speaking to many frequent Google Reader users, we decided to focus this release on a few features that would increase the prominence of publishers within Zite without re-creating what we believe to be a broken experience. In Zite 2.3, expect to find:

  • More prominent sources – sources will now appear in the topic drawer after you thumb-up an article; also, remember that you can always click on an article’s source for a Zite-ified (i.e., personalized to your tastes/interests) section for that publisher
  • Articles grey out after being read – now you’ll be able to tell when you’ve clicked on an article within Zite, because it will appear grey
  • Highlight obscure sources – one of the biggest problems with Google Reader is that RSS feeds which publish many stories per day tend to dominate your feed, so the obscure blog you found a few years ago that publishes every three months can be drowned out in the noise. Zite’s algorithm will more aggressively highlight rare content, so feel free to “like” publishers that you enjoy, no matter how popular or rare

New Partners in the Publisher Program

Zite’s publisher program extends reach and drives content engagement for its partners in the app.

Today we’re very excited to announce partnerships with seven more publishers, bringing a total of nine new titles into the program:

“Over the years we’ve seen drastic changes in the way users are discovering and engaging with content,” said Alison Murdock, vice president of business development at GigaOM. “We are excited to expand our editorial reach through this partnership with Zite, as the GigaOM branded channel will allow readers the ability to easily access a stream of our tailored content tied to their specific interests. We also look forward to engaging new audiences who share similar passions and interests.”

New User Onboarding, Algorithmic Changes, and Additional Features

As an extremely popular app, Zite is downloaded thousands of times every day. In this release, we decided to focus much of our effort on streamlining the experience for first-time users.

Specifically, we’ve made enhancements to tell first-time users what Zite is and why it’s an amazing recommendation engine. This means that user education is greatly simplified (something we heard loud-and-clear from your reviews in the iTunes store) and that we’ll show you additional features as you use Zite (in a process we call “frog cooking,” since it’s so subtle, you don’t even know what’s happening to you).

If you’re a current user, you should tell a friend about Zite today and let us know how his or her onboarding experience goes.

The magic behind Zite lies in our algorithm, allowing us to personalize stories for you. We’ve made a lot of improvements in this round which you’re likely to see in “Your Top Stories.” A number of our key algorithmic improvements are to the new user experience, which aims to deliver users a wider variety of interesting articles, instilling a sense of serendipity to new users. As previously mentioned, we’ll also be more aggressively surfacing obscure publications to your Zite. Finally, we’ve made a number of improvements under the hood that make your recommendations more spot on.  Find a great story thanks to your update?  Let us know at feedback@zite.com!

We’ve also included a number of features to make your Zite experience more pleasurable:

  • Give a heart to a new category (we suggest “Amazing”) and you’ll find a topic counter that shows just how many topics you’ve told us you like
  • We’ve highlighted quotes within an article in both reader mode and occasionally in sections, so you have more information upfront before clicking on an article
  • We’ve added a new type of story card in sections that is more visually-focused than other cards.

If you’re an Android user, you probably feel a bit left out right now. Fear not: Zite is planning a 2.0 release for Android this year to greatly improve your experience.

As always, we welcome your feedback and look forward to wowing you in future releases.

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