By William Kristoph
Yesterday, Google announced that Google Reader is going the way of the Dodo. I reacted like many of my friends on Twitter, with anger and general crankiness about Google’s decision. I poked around on my iPad and chatted with a few friends about alternatives. I decided that Feedly is my best option for now. Not only does it look pretty on my iPad and very nice on my iPhone, it has a great Chrome App for the Chrome browser. They also have a migration plan for us Google Reader users that decide to migrate to Feedly.
By William Kristoph
Every morning I fire up my tablet and check out Zite, my favorite personalized magazine app. Today I an article greeted me from BGR (Zach Epstein) – The most annoying things iOS 6 and the iPhone 5 won’t fix. I read it, laughed and sort of shook my head. The iPhone 5 isn’t even announced yet and writers are all too happy to pick at it. Let’s take a look at one particular set of arguments:
- “Awful” Auto-correct – Zach claims the iOS auto-correct is awful. All I can say to this one is that my personal experience is different. I rarely have frustrating weird auto-corrects.
- Widgets – I completely understand this criticism. I understand that some people want widgets. I also understand why it’s not happening in iOS which an operating system for the masses, not always the power users. The version of the article that I linked to talks about the Stock App and the lack of a Wi-Fi / Bluetooth toggle. The version I read on Zite mentioned the Calendar App (which shows today’s date, contrary to the article at the time). Either way, some of it is valid, the rest leads me to believe that if a user wants those features they are better with Android.
- Time- and location-based actions – Yep, I agree here too generally. Location based reminders are mixed at best. Until Apple gets that down, I feel like they should wait on location-based actions. There’s no excuse for not having better time-based actions though. Apple has a foot in the door in iOS 6, but I’m shocked they didn’t try to do more.
- Better email client – This one I disagree with. I’ve never had an issue with gmail through the iPhone mail app. It just works for me. If I need to do power emailing I’m on a PC anyway. In fact, I’ve argued before that the iCloud Mail App is the problem and it’s what keeps me from leaving gmail.
- Automatic app updates – I disagree here too. Automatic updates lead to user experience issues for the masses. I’ve had a handful of times where an update forced me to delete the app and freshly install. For me, that’s no problem, for the average iPhone user, it is a problem that causes frustration.
- Actionable notifications – Zach, if we’re going to agree on one thing, it’s definitely this one. Why can’t I just swipe away a txt or iMessage and make that gesture “marked as read”? I don’t want to open the app Apple! I read it already!
- Bigger display – This is subjective. Zach has his points, but I feel like many of the Android phones are way too big. I have a tablet if I need a bigger screen, the iPhone is for me when I’m on the go, not heavy video or web use.
- Sharing data between apps – I see Zach’s point. But I also understand Apple’s. I’ll take security at the expense of functionality (Apple’s reasoning) on a mobile device.
- Enough with the skull quake – I don’t think I’ve ever run into this particular problem, but I generally don’t have tons of messages incoming, nor do I set that stuff to vibrate. Or, maybe I just have a fat head and don’t noticed the skull quake as much. Ha!
I was, and still am, an avid Google Reader user. It’s a very good product in the browser, but I noticed that I did not like it nearly as much on an iPhone or iPad. So, I went to look for an alternative in the i-Ecosystem. Flipboard was recommended to me, and while it’s gorgeous and can pull RSS feeds, I never really thought it was anything great. I still didn’t love the content, even if it looked really nice.
When used properly (ie voting thumbs up or down for articles you read) Zite learns what type of content it should deliver to your “Personalized Magazine.” On an iPad it looks very much like a newspaper and on the iPhone it looks more like a standard reader app with headlines on one page that lead to a full story when tapped. It can also learn from Twitter feeds, Facebook accounts and RSS feeds. I was hopeful that Zite would work well for me. My initial impression was mediocre after giving Zite my Twitter and RSS feeds to look at, but I stuck with it for a couple of weeks.
Thankfully, I didn’t give up! After roughly two weeks, Zite brings me some very excellent content from sites I normally didn’t check. Baseball, college football and NFL news replaced nearly all of the basketball and soccer posts that I don’t care about thanks to the thumbs up or thumbs down voting system. Even better, Zite filters not only national stories, but it figured out that I’m a Mets, Noles and Jets fan. I get more articles about those teams now that Zite knows that.
It brings tons of interesting news stories from other topics I set up too. Case in point, this morning I would never have found Please Don’t Learn To Code. Zite decided I’d like to read it, based on some other articles I previously liked, and Zite was right! It’s an excellent app for news and I’m interested to see what other goodies it sends my way.