This week saw the release of the iPhone version of Zite, a free “personalized” magazine app which was originally released for the iPad. I reviewed the iPad version of the app back in episode 54 of MacBites.

For anyone who missed the review, Zite trawls through hundreds of thousands of news sites and blogs, looking for stories that it thinks you will find interesting. As Zite themselves, say “Your Zite magazine is compiled using automated algorithms that find and deliver articles that have buzz: that is, they’re being discussed on websites, blogs, and popular social media services. Your content isn’t chosen by a person”.

zite

Just like paper-based magazines and newspapers, the app contains “Sections”. Tap the Customize tab to display a list of Sections which includes Sports, Tech News, Film and TV, Cooking, Business, World News. Tapping the name of a Section in this list adds it to “your” magazine. Typing a keyword into the “Enter your own” box offers up more Sections which allows you to further customize Zite.

Although Zite uses complex algorithms to decide what stories and articles to deliver, it also uses activity on your Twitter, Google Reader. Delicious and Read It Later accounts to help it to figure out what topics you’re interested in (this bit is optional – if you don’t use any of these services you can still use Zite). It also analyzes your use of the app over time to fine-tune its story selections. For example, if you tap the “thumbs up” icon in the Sidebar next to an article or you share an article on Twitter, Facebook or via email, Zite will, in the future, provide you with more articles of a similar nature.

In my case, I entered only my Twitter name into the Configuration settings and Zite generated a list of Sections that included Mac News, Social Media, Technology and iPad – pretty accurate I’d say! I manually added Food & Cooking and Manchester United.

Each Section consists of several pages with each page containing several stories. To navigate through the pages, simply swipe your finger across the iPad screen. To load a story (you only see the first paragraph or two of each story plus an image) just tap on it.

zite

To select a different Section, tap on its name from the Sections from the list on the right hand side. If you want to amend your Sections or add/remove a “service” (Twitter, Google Reader, etc), click the Customize button.

Profiles

Do you have Zite on multiple devices? Does more than 1 person use Zite on your iPad? If so you should take advantage of the Profiles functionality now offered by Zite. Profiles allow you to 1) sync your preferences (selected Sections, Twitter and other Service accounts and even the intelligent ‘learning’) across devices and 2) allow multiple people to use Zite on a single device where each person can have the app configured independently so it really is YOUR content.

If you have Zite on an iPad, tap the Save Profile button at the top left and then click Save. To create a Profile, enter your name, email address and create a password. The current configuration is saved to this Profile. The Save Profile button is now replaced with a button containing the ‘Name’ that was entered when the Profile was created.

To create another Profile, tap the Profile button, tap New Profile and repeat the steps above. At this point you are logged in as ‘user2’, so define your Sections, Twitter account etc.

To login as another user (where the Profile has already been created), tap the Profile button and select from a list of Profiles (these are Profiles that are stored on the device) or tap the Log In button and enter another username and password.

If you don’t have an iPad or you haven’t created a Profile on the iPad but want to use Zite on the iPhone, the first time you run Zite on the iPhone, you are asked if you have already set up Zite on another device. Click No, then set up your Content preferences (i.e. choose your Sections and optionally configure your Twitter account).

You can create a Profile at any time on the iPhone, however, note that the iPhone doesn’t support multiple Profiles because, according to Zite Support, “not many people share iPhones”.

Zite

When I ran the app for the first time on the iPhone, I answered Yes to the question “Have you already set up Zite on another device” because in my mind, I had set up Zite on another device. I was using it on my iPad but I didn’t actually have a Zite profile as they didn’t exist when I first installed Zite on the iPad. I was presented with a sign-in screen to sign in using my Profile. As I’d not created a Profile I had to tap Cancel, then tap No.

Later on, I created my Profile on the iPad (because I was on the iPad at the time I thought about creating a Profile). The problem I then faced was that when I wanted to login to my Profile on the iPhone (to sync content and settings across devices), there was no way to do this. The only option on the iPhone is to create a Profile – there is no way to login with an existing Profile.

I contacted Zite Support who advised that I uninstall and re-install Zite and when I run it, it will act as if it’s a ‘first run’ and ask if I have Zite set up on another device. I should tap Yes and then enter the username and password that I setup on the iPad.

Not really a satisfactory way of working, that you can’t log in to your Profile on the iPhone unless you do it the first time that you run the app. If I get any further with Support, I’ll report back.

All in all, an excellent pair of apps which are both available for free from the App Store.