So the time has come. I am about to delete one of my favorite iPad apps of all time. Zite has been an amazing discovery tool for me. It has enhanced my learning and given me lots of great ideas to share in this blog and online via social media. However, as you may already have heard, Zite was acquired by Flipboard recently and will be discontinued.
For a long time I was bullish about these changes and carried on using Zite regardless. After all, it still works, and has yet to be pulled from the App Store, but it doesn’t work as well as it used to. The app has not been updated since March 2014. There have been a number of weekends recently when there would be no new stories for several days. When it does work, I have found the articles in my feed increasingly irrelevant to my tastes.
So, after years of great service, it is time to remove Zite from my iPad. The only remaining question was what to replace it with. There are numerous news aggregation apps that will adapt to your specific interests, but Flipboard is increasingly the one I have been turning to for the most relevant and up to date articles for my needs. So, here’s some tips on how to switch from Zite to Flipboard.
1. Adding Topics
Adding topics you are interested in is pretty straight forward in Flipboard. Simply tap the search bar at the top of the screen and enter some keywords. Topics appear as a selection of words that are surrounded by a rectangle. Tap on the one you are interested in and you will get a preview of the kinds of articles you will see in this topic. If you lie what you see, tap the blue Follow button to add it to your the boards you see when you start the app.
2. Organizing Topics
The more topics you add, the more interactive tiles you will see when you are on the Flipboard home screen. You may have several pages of boards, so organizing them is worth your time. Thankfully this is easy, because it is basically the same method you use to organize apps on your iPhone or iPad. Press and hold on any topic, then drag it to another space to give it a new home. To move topics between pages, press and hold on the topic, then drag it to the edge of the screen until the page flips over. Then drop it where you want it. You can delete topics you no longer want by pressing and holding on a topic, then tapping the “x” in the corner to delete it.
3. Reading Articles
In Zite, your aggregate news feed was called Your Top Stories, but in Flipboard, this is called Cover Stories. To all intents and purposes, I believe that it is pretty much the same thing. You can tap Cover Stories to read about all your chosen topics in one place, or tap one of the topic boards to read something more specific.
4. Rating Articles
To rate stories in Zite and personalize the content you were given, there was a simple thumbs up, thumbs down rating system. Flipboard has an equivalent system to learn your reading preferences, but it is not always as obvious to find. Simply tap the three sliders on the menu bar at the bottom of the screen to reveal the familiar thumbs up and thumbs down.
5. Adding Social Media Accounts
This is an option that Zite does not offer. If you want to read your favorite social media accounts inside of Flipboard, you can. I have linked my Twitter, Google+ and YouTube accounts. Each one shows up as a live tile on my home screen, but they also appear in Cover Stories among my other topics of interest.
If you are a new user, you will likely be prompted to add these accounts when you first use the app, but if you are coming back to Flipboard or haven’t used it in a while, tap the red ribbon in the top right-hand corner of the home screen, then tap Following. On the far right-hand side you will see a tab labelled Accounts. It is here where you will see a range of accounts you can add to your Flipboard app.
6. Creating Magazines
You may have heard of Flipboard magazines before. You may even have seen some on the web or advertised within the Flipboard app itself, but what are they? Magazines are a way to curate articles on a specific topic that you found while reading Flipboard. Magazines can be private, or they can be public and available for all to view inside of Flipboard or on the web. Jeff Utecht often talks about how schools could use Flipboard’s magazines to create custom textbooks that they can share with students. It’s a nice idea. You can add collaborators to a magazine so that more than one person can add articles to it. This could be a nice way for students to recreate the same kind of thing that you can do with Diigo Groups.
To get started, tap the plus sign on an article in Flipboard that you would like to save to a magazine. Then tap New Magazine and follow the prompts. You can also add articles from the web with the Flipboard extension for Mobile Safari.
7. Adding RSS Feeds
It’s kind of a hidden feature, but Flipboard also lets you subscribe to your favorite blogs and websites by adding the RSS feed for that site. All you need to do is copy and paste, or type, the RSS feed in Flipboard’s search box. If all goes well, you should see it register as a feed that you can tap on to get a preview of the articles associated with that feed. As before, tap the blue Follow button to add the feed to your other topic boards.
I’m still finding my way around Flipboard, and Flipboard is still learning what I like to read about, but so far so good. It’s not a like for like replacement compared to Zite, but it is improving all the time. I’m not 100% sold on Flipboard, but I am going to give it a go and see how well it performs over the next couple of weeks or so, and probably compare it alongside another news aggregate competitor – Prismatic – to see which one will work best for me.