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Zite for iPad gets a new version and a new CEO

In previous reviews, I've said Zite is my favorite way to get the latest news on the variety of subjects I follow, and unlike more traditional RSS feed readers, Zite lets me discover stories from websites I would never have seen.

Zite pushed out an update yesterday with an in-app browser, performance improvements and clipboard support for long URLs.

I think what I like most about Zite is the presentation of the articles. They look very clean, ad free, and are just simply easy on the eyes. Of course, some publishers complained about ads being stripped out, and Zite received some threats in the form of a cease and desist letter from some of the biggest publishers on the Web. The response was to accommodate any publisher with a direct web link, and that's happened with every request Zite has received.

I spent some time today talking with the new CEO of Zite, Mark Johnson, formerly of Microsoft. He told me they are very pleased with the reviews and uptake on the free Zite app. Zite has had more than 100 thousand downloads. He says the company is getting a lot of feedback from users who want more options to customize the order of the news sections. That's coming, along with an iPhone and Android version at some point. The company is also looking at ways to bring the Zite experience to the Web, probably in a browser. Offline reading is also on the list of enhancements, as well as a way to stop duplicate articles that come from different sources but share the same content.

For Zite to grow, publishers need to feel comfortable with what the app is doing. Johnson says after the company implemented direct links the publishers have remained quiet. The company is working on a way to integrate ads into the Zite experience, but they want the ads to be context sensitive, so if you created a section on photography, for example, the ads would be relevant to that subject.

I've suggested Zite to a lot of people -- they all seem pretty happy with it, and of course, they have their own want lists. Because Zite crawls more than half a million websites for content, it's not dependent on RSS feeds. It makes for a richer experience, and because it learns from your reading choices, I often find things that are really worth reading.

If you haven't tried Zite, I'd suggest you give it a go, and give it time to learn your preferences for content. It's not a replacement for Flipboard, Pulse News or any of the other clever apps out there. I do find I spend more time with Zite than the others, and I look forward to more personalization, better performance and a deeper feature set.

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