The iPad is a reading device, no really. Well, that’s the idea behind many of the “magazines” you can get for the Apple tablet. The latest is ZITE, which hopes to take your Twitter feed and Google Reader subscriptions, combine them and create a magazine that’s tailored to you. But does it work? We downloaded it to find out to see whether it is worthy of App of the Day status.
Start the app for the first time and you’re asked to add your Twitter and Google Reader account details,so that it can get a better understanding of what you might like to read.
Neither is necessary, but doing so makes for a better experience. A couple of moments later and you’ve got a brand spanking new magazine that’s designed to be customisable.
Of course, if you follow a bunch of Twitter users that just retweet garbage, that’s not going to help your initial offering, but then we suspect that’s probably not the case. If they are rubbish why follow them in the first place?
Once you’ve got your new, shiny magazine you can then customise it some more or simply stick with what you’ve got.
The main way of customising is to define what categories or sections you want.
Based on our reading lists we got Film & TV, Gadgets, Mac, Photography, Social Media, Technology and Mobile (can you tell what we read?). But you can add tons more or enter your own.
When ZITE says you can enter your own, what it really means is that you can enter further categories from a bigger drop down list. Type porn for example and you’ll get the option to add Relationships, Lingerie, Gay and a few others - but no Playboy.com for example.
Still, it's not like you would be doing that anyway - would you?
Back to the app, and it presents a random selection of articles based on what you’ve given it.
We found that our selections were interesting if not a little wide of the mark. If you find that to be the case too then you can hone the choices further by telling the app about things you do like and things you don't.
Each story, for example, has the ability to be rated - "yes" for enjoyed, "no" for didn’t - and you can then ask for more of the same from the publication, author or subject topic.
Doing so improves the “personalisation” of the magazine, which should in turn give you better results, and thus a more enjoyable read.
A story about X-Men gave us the chance to “give me more about...” James Mcavoy, Michael Fassbender, X-men and Magneto, for example.
The actual reading page itself is all very clean and easy to scan. You can change font style and size, and then email, Twitter or Facebook the story if you want to share it with others. There’s also a chance to see the correlating web page if you want to see other elements like comments or the ads.
However, while it offers the chance to be customised and personalised based on what you read, ZITE doesn’t have the same breadth and depth of its closest rival, Flipboard, the iPad magazine that launched last year.
It's also worth noting that currently, with all the global traffic, the app is struggling to cope with the demand.
Nonetheless, it's an interesting a pleasant experience, and definitely worth an App of the Day sticker.