Chris J Powell

Free App Friday – The Quest for a Zite Replacement

Earlier this week I made a bold statement that I am lost without Zite the News App that has been my trusty companion for almost 4 years, guiding me through the news of the day and letting me interact with the information in a way that I really enjoyed and was able to share with others quite effectively.  Sure there are alternatives but with the purchase of Zite by Flipboard, I was still in shock from losing what I thought was as good as it gets.  And then…


I started down a quest of trying to find a real replacement for Zite and while there are dozens of Apps that claim to do what it did for me…most were a quick install, use once and uninstall.  The Interfaces were clunky, there was no social sharing component and worst of all…I had to either use just blog and news site RSS or I could only pull from my Social Media Channels and that was just not enough for me…so after several hours of deliberation…I sucked up my pride and narrowed the list of replacements to three all with the focus on my Android Devices:

  1. Flipboard
  2. Appy Geek
  3. Taptu

These three apps are all free, all offer up Streams of News from multiple sources and for me…I like to keep things as simple as possible and if I have to go to too many sources…I not only tend to not use all the sources…I could and would probably read the same content twice and “over share”…so the quest begins.


I first encountered Flipboard when I had my iPad and even then I was not overly impressed.  It seemed to be overly focused on its Social Feeds and while I like that concept in theory…isn’t that why I started following these people in the first place so why wouldn’t I just use the native apps for the Social Networks.  The interface has not changed much over time and I find the “page flipping” to be gimmicky and rather annoying.


While there is a topic search, it is not as strong as what I am used to with Zite and I can only hope that there will be some of that integrated into future updates after the purchase is finalized and Zite takes its last breath before going the way of so many other apps.


The Social Sharing component of Flipboard is good and even let me tap into my Google+ connections (as well as my LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook) but every time I opened the app, I just couldn’t help but feel like something was missing…I had 36 Topics in Zite and many of them were not an option in Flipboard…I just can’t get past the gimmick of the “page flip” transitions and for now…it will not be my primary News App.


DJ your News…is the tagline for this app…so I figured I would give it a try and see if I too could be “too hip to be square”…and in reality I found the experience to be both less and more than what I expected.


The greatest fault of Taptu is that it focuses on major “News Streams” almost exclusively.  Tapping into Ars Technica, Mashable and Engadget is fine…but I want a bit more topical control over what I am seeing rather than just the latest news from specific sites.  That was one thing I really liked about Zite is that it would not only connect to the news…it would sort it based on my settings.


Deep below the belly of the beast though, I was able to set up some alternative searches that did satiate my hunger for “more” for a while…but then the reality set in that it was the interface that had me wary.  It was just a long list of “sites” with news feeds that I could scroll side to side through…it didn’t catch my attention for long, and it certainly didn’t keep it.


I was starting to think that I was going to have to settle for less than what I had with Zite until, as if from Mercury himself I was delivered a little bit of salvation.  Appy Geek got a major overhaul the same day that I downloaded it and started on the quest for a new News App.

The focus is more on set topics than opening up the world to my choices…there were enough choices that I did not feel encumbered by what the developers thought that I would want to see, nor was it just an endless stream of Tech News Sites and their RSS Feeds…there was an intelligence behind it that was familiar…and yet foreign to me from my years of using Zite.

One thing that I was intrigued by was the use of a Word Cloud of Sorts to narrow the Focus down from within a given topic:

While it is just as gimmicky as the Page Flips in Flipboard, it was different enough that the 3D Globe Content was able to get me to click more than once to narrow the focus of my Information Digest.

Is it AppyGeek as good as Zite?  Are any of them as good?  For me…AppyGeek is going to stick around and jam up my brain with information in the near term at least.

Have a great Friday everyone!



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