Sorry about not blogging for the past 2 days, but I have been on an obsessive app buying spree. Call it cyber shopping therapy, if you will.
I’ve actually downloaded more than 100 apps in the past 2 days. Of those 100 apps, only about 10 were paid apps. I spent about $30 total for all the apps I got. The FREE apps were FREE either because they were on sale or because they are shopping, news, or social media oriented.
Here’s a tidbit to remember, though. If you don’t pay for an app, or anything you use really, you are still paying for it in other ways. Paid apps that go FREE for a day are one thing, but apps that are always FREE and that don’t have ads must still make money somehow.
The saying goes, “If you’re not the customer, you’re the product.” That means that if you don’t pay to use something, you are probably being used in some way to make money for the developer.
For instance, Facebook collects your information and sells it to advertisers and marketers and to target your advertising choices. That is a very popular way for FREE apps to make money. So, if you value your privacy, remember that you get what you pay for. Nothing is ever really FREE.
Now, onto more positive things. The reason I got so many good apps is that the App Store refresh this week was awesome! There are a ton of good apps out there.
The App Store refreshes its Featured section every Thursday. Usually about mid-afternoon. The main page of the Featued section is really only the beginning. You absolutely MUST dig deeper to find all the gems the App Store is featuring each week.
The Featured section is actually much larger than you can believe due to the use of categories. When you go to the Featured section, it shows you the overall featured apps of the week from many categories. However, if you are interested in photography or social media or travel or …, there’s a featured category for that.
To change categories, just look at the top of the screen. Several are listed and then you can press More to find all the other featured categories. When you go to the category, it looks just like the main Featured section, but it has apps just for that category.
Another way to find more apps is to press on one of the collection sections. To see all of the best collection sections, go to “Essentials App Collections,” which is on the main page of the Featured section. This takes you to a place to find the best of the best no matter what you’re interested in.
And, don’t forget to check categories that you think might not fit you. I go to every category except for sports. Even the children’s or education sections interest me, although I don’t have young children. I still find some great apps hiding in there for me to use.
A newer feature in the App Store is the Editor’s Choice App of the Week. They usually pick 1 normal app and 1 game app. You can see all the Editor’s Choice past app picks in a collection. There’s also a FREE app of the week every week, too.
This week’s Editor’s Choice app is Zite Personalized Magazine. Zite is a FREE, universal news app that I have been using since it came out in March 2011. I adore it as a news source for many reasons.
However, when I went into Zite to take some screenshots for this post, I discovered that they had released their 2.0 verison and it has been completely overhauled. So, I will do my best to describe what Zite is and how to use it, but many things about it have changed, so bear with me.
When Zite was first released, it was a very unique idea and it had very few competitors. The closest app to it at the time was Flipboard, but they are actually quite different from each other.
After surfing the App Store for the past 2 days, I realized that there are a LOT of apps like Zite now. I downloaded many of them and will check them out and get back to you on how they work and what they’re like.
Back to Zite. Zite creates a personalized magazine-style news app based on interests you choose from a list, interests you can search for (pretty much anything), and interests based on your social network link-ups with Zite.
After you are all set up and linked in, you are given a little tour of how to work with Zite that pretty much covers all the bases you need to be able to use the app effectively.
When you open Zite normally, you are presented with your Top Stories section (photo at left). Top Stories is a roundup of the best stories based on your interests, what Zite has learned about you based on your reading habits and likes or dislikes of stories, and news that is really important right now (like when the earthquake in Japan happened).
One of the most special things about Zite is the algorithm behind it that learns who you are and what you like and then offers you more of what you like. It gathers the information that you gave it when you set up your account and adds to it information based on what you do and do not look at in Top Stories and each other section, and also what you give a thumbs up or thumbs down on, which you can do for each story you read.
Zite uses that information to give you a better assortment of stories to read in the future. That doesn’t mean that you are limited in the scope of what you can read. It just means that your Top Stories may start to feature more technology-related stories or psychology or just about anything. It also notes if you like longer or shorter stories and takes that into account. It is just pretty damn cool.
Zite also gives you a very pleasant reading experience. It was very controversial when Zite first came out, because the app strips the story you’re reading from the Internet layout and makes it look like the photo at right. Which means no advertising. Something publishers do not like! Zite actually received many cease and desist letters when it first came out.
Every story you read in Zite looks the same.
You can adjust the font size and you can switch to the web view to see what it looks like in its natural environment or open it Safari. Other options include saving it to an app like Instapaper or Pocket, emailing the story to someone, or sharing it on a social network site.
I have to get used to the new look though. There used to be a column along the right side that contained all of the things I just mentioned. It looks like all of that is along the bottom of the screen now. And, the coloring has changed a bit. Plus, I don’t see an option to change to a serif font, which only a font geek like me would care about.
The last thing I’ll tell you about Zite is that you can set up sections in addition to Top Stories so that you almost have a newspaper-like experience. Zite is calling these sections Quicklist now instead of Sections. You just click the heart on any topic to see more on that subject and then click “Add to Quicklist.”
Even the sections learn what you like and offer you better and more personalized selections within the section. You can get really specific with your sections, too. I even have a Buffy the Vampire section. Seriously.
The reason I like news aggregators like Zite is that you are introduced to a myriad of news sources that you may never see if all you do is go to specific news sources directly. Because of this, you get so many different points of view and so many different ideas and styles of writing. There are benefits to going to news sources you rely on, but I prefer to get my news more diversified.
You should give it a try.
That’s it for me today. Until later, …