We don’t all have that well-read friend who can direct us to the latest news stories and blogs that he thinks we’d appreciate. That’s why there’s Zite, a free personalized iPad magazine and news discovery service that launched today.
While it’s noticeably similar to the much-loved Flipboard, Zite functions more as a web discovery service that will show you content it thinks you will like rather than a set list of sites you subscribe to. Zite works similarly to Pandora in that it adjusts the content it feeds you according to your tastes: give a liberal political blog a thumbs up, and you’ll likely see more of the same. Vote something down, and you won’t see things like it again.
The app takes its initial data from your Twitter account or Google Reader and analyzes who you follow and what you like to read. Are you interested in long-form investigative pieces, short food blogs with recipes or celebrity gossip sites that embed video? Zite will take it all into account, and then show you information it thinks you’ll like given your current habits.
Its algorithms are pretty in-depth, as Zite CEO Ali Davar explained to CNN: “[The algorithm is] a combination of semantic- and statistically-based machine learning,” he says. “It works by looking at the articles you click on and the characteristics of those articles. Is the article longer or shorter? Is it skewed toward one element of a topic or another? Is it a political blog? If so, does it have have a right- or left-wing slant?”
But for all the smartness that’s packed into this app, many customers on Apple’s app store site gripe in their reviews about Zite’s eternally slow loading time. Since the app launched today, perhaps it just wasn’t ready for primetime. Now, if only the kinks could be worked out soon so we can start to discover all the content out there that’s waiting to be read.
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