Evri Jumps into the Tablet News Fray

Evri has another news reader. But this one has some seriously cool technology underneath. Here CEO Will Hunsinger gives us a bunch of reasons why its technology is better.

I’m loving this fight between a group of Flipboard competitors. Should Flipboard be scared? Yes – eventually one of these will figure out something much better than it’s doing and Evri has been working on news semantic databases for years, so this is a very good effort.

What are your thoughts thus far on the various news-aggregation tablet apps? Which are you using, and why do you feel it’s the best? Join our Google+ discussion to share your ideas and comments.

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Two apps that show the depth of what Facebook shipped today

Mark Zuckerberg

Today Mark Zuckerberg announced a sweeping set of changes to Facebook. If you, for some weird reason, weren’t aware of the changes there’s LOTS of press coverage over on Techmeme. So, instead of rehashing that, I thought I’d go and talk with developers.

Here’s the insights from them. What are they? Color (a new kind of life-sharing app for mobile phones) and Social Reader (a new kind of social news reader from the Washington Post).

First, a look at Color. Yes, this is the app that was Silicon Valley’s biggest startup “failure” in quite a while. But here it’s back and back in a HUGE way. I really am having fun with this app, which is totally integrated into Facebook and does a lot more than the old version (live video, for instance). Really amazing. Sign up for the beta at http://www.color.com/

Note how they are using Facebook’s platform to hold ALL data. This is a new move for Silicon Valley startups.

Now, let’s look at the Social Reader, from Washington Post. This is a web-based app that sits entirely in Facebook. Now you can see what your friends are reading (and they can see what you are reading). Try that at https://apps.facebook.com/wpsocialreader/

This is most cool.

These two apps show how EVERYTHING in your life will be touched by social technologies. Great stuff.

Zite Brings Personalized News Content to the iPad

Recently CNN bought Zite. Here we talk with Zite’s CEO, to find out what’s going on in this hot category and how Zite differs from the other players in the field.

There are a host of different applications that are available to help us organize and consume the content we receive on our mobile devices. Zite is one such product, and it’s quickly becoming one of the hottest and most talked about apps on the market.

“One thing that people don’t know about Zite,” explains Mark Johnson, CEO of Zite, “is that we’re almost six years old as a company, so we’ve been developing technology for all this time…so it turns out there’s a lot of great technology under the hood that allows us to figure out exactly the kinds of things you like to read and give you more of it. I think that in this world of news clutter, people don’t just want another app that’s a veneer over the RSS feeds that they’ve had in the past. They want something that is really tailored towards them.”

Zite, currently available for the iPad, personalizes the news you receive in a number of different ways. It can tap into your Google Reader or Twitter feed to see the links you and your friends share. It can display articles based on the subjects you choose from over 5,000 categories. You can give each article a thumbs up or thumbs down. And you can click on key words within articles to indicate a preference to receive more content with a similar subject matter. Each time you read an article on Zite, it learns more about your interests.

“One of the things I like to do every week,” says Johnson, “is I add a new topic on Zite that I don’t know anything about…It’s just fun to pick something that’s current and say, ‘Huh, I’m going to learn something new.’ It’s sort of like your search vs. sift thing. It’s like, ‘show me an interesting stream of information about topic X.’ That’s much different than just seeing a few web results.”

Whereas the offline world uses human editors to determine which news items are most important and deserve the most prominent placement, Zite uses algorithms that take into account your preferences as well as the buzz around each story to create the layout of pages. The more you use the app, the more customized it becomes, but Zite hopes it will prove useful right from the beginning.

“When a person first comes into the application,” explains Johnson, “you want to give them a really interesting stream of information. So one of the most important things we do at Zite is to determine the interestingness of an article and what category it falls into, so even if you’ve never personalized Zite before and we don’t know a thing about you, if you choose something like art or architecture, we should be able to give you lots of interesting articles that will allow you to start interacting with the system so we learn the kinds of things that you like.”

This article and video were printed with permission from Building 43.

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