Monthly Archives: December 2011

Faceoff: Zite vs Flipboard vs Pulse vs Google Currents

With iPhone versions of Flipboard, Zite & introduction of Google Currents, there are now a lot of options for Social Readers/Media Aggregators. Here is a rundown of the top four

Google Currents [iTunes Link]

  • Google Sign on
  • Top half is dedicated to pictures
  • Can add RSS feeds of interesting sites or feeds from your Google Reader
  • The GUI is more android-ish than iOS [Too many buttons?]
  • Sharing to Facebook, Twitter [you must enter your twitter credentials in the iOS settings], tumblr, Google plus [Google plus is given unnecessary prominence]
  • Does not make use of any multitouch gestures[Multiple fingers, pinching]: Must tap to go back. Unintuitive, especially on the iPad
  • Functions more like a RSS reader than a magazine: You can add only sites, not entire sections.
  • Very slow to load articles
  • So far it is US only

Pulse News [iTunes Link]

  • Offers lots of customization, but can come off as complicated
  • Add feeds from google reader, your Facebook, Twitter [feeds as well as links]etc.
  • Intuitive
  • Standard sharing options: Facebook, Twitter etc
  • Fonts used are tiny, the pictures get cut off.
  • The presentation is cluttered, reminds more of a news website. Not very aesthetically pleasing

Flipboard [iTunes Link]

  • Clean grid presentation, easy navigation
  • Option to add entire sections or single feeds
  • Large collection of articles, esp. liked reddit section
  • Add feeds from google reader, your Facebook, Twitter, tumblr, Flickr & almost any other social platform.
  • Can save to Readitlater or Instapaper
  • Multitouch enabled
  • You can setup an account [only an email & password required] so that you can access Your Flipboard on multiple devices [iPad & iPhone]
  • Time to setup your choice of articles takes patience.
  • Adding single feeds to Your Flipboard is a pain. You must navigate to each section, wait for it to load & then add.
  • Load times for articles is high. Even on broadband an article takes half a minute to load, more for graphic heavy sites
  • If the article is divided into sections & requires you to click to naviagte to the next page [for example, The Verge] more waiting
  • No option to get only text view [via Instapaper Mobilizer, for example] further irritates.
  • All this waiting detracts from the fluid reading experience you expect from a Social reader

Zite [iTunes Link]

  • Magazine like presentation
  • Has good ratio of picture & article preview without squeezing down the font size [Flipboard gives pictures more real estate than the text]
  • Multitouch enabled
  • You can setup an account [only an email & password required] so that you can access Zite collection on multiple devices
  • Adding sections is very easy: You are given categories to choose from & it does so with a single click
  • Option to pull articles from your Twitter feed, Google Reader, Delicious & Readitlater
  • Multitouch enabled
  • Standard sharing options
  • You can save articles to Readitlater/Instapaper
  • The app has a learning feature, you tell it what kind of articles you like, over a period of time it will learn & provide you a better selection. It is very nice & catches on quickly.
  • Articles load quickly & you have the option to get the entire webpage or a simple text view, like Safari’s Reader. If the article is split into multiple pages, it loads them too
  • Choice isn’t as large as Flipboard. For example, I could not find 500px or reddit feeds.
  • Not much in the way of eye candy

I personally find Zite to be the best of them all just because of the speed. It has almost all the features of Flipboard & gets me to my articles quickly. In first time use you can just open up the app & it loads articles to read, unlike Flipboard where you have to add before you can do any reading. Google Currents is at the bottom of the pile just because of its un-intuitive navigation.

My opinion: Zite> Flipboard> Pulse> Google Currents


Censoring the Internet.

A lot has been said on Internet censorship esp. with the recent statements made by Mr. Kapil Sibal. CIS has brought out some interesting points in their article. For example:

While Mr. Sibal uses the examples of communally sensitive material as a reason to force censorship of the Internet, out of the 358 items requested to be removed from January 2011 to June 2011 from Google service by the Indian government (including state governments), only 8 were for hate speech and only 1 was for national security.  Instead, 255 items (71% of all requests) were asked to be removed for ‘government criticism’.  Google, despite the government in India not having the powers to ban government criticism due to the Constitution, complied in 51% of all requests.

Is he really working for the betterment of the public or being self serving?

Read the full article “Invisible Censorship: How the Government Censors without being seen


Twitter for iPhone v4.0 Is A Design & Functionality Clusterfuck

Twitter for iPhone  is  was the most used app on my phone. In the last update they removed the search bar & now with today’s redesign ,they ruined it completely.

The choices make no sense:

  • THEY KILLED “SWIPE TO REVEAL” !!! This was the only feature that was stopping me from buying Tweetbot when they kicked out the search bar. Why remove a feature as simple and as elegant as this? It now takes me more taps to perform essential actions.
  • The font size is small & unadjustable.
  • Squeezing the main pane. iPhones have a 3.5 inch screen, adding graphics at the cost of functionality is never a good idea.
  • The obscenely big bar at the top with the twitter icon. It’s like the app is shouting at me “HEY, THIS IS TWITTER APP YOU’VE LAUNCHED. SEE THE BIRD? THATS THE TWITTER ICON. YEP”  I opened the damn app, I know what it does. I would rather have a slightly larger font than all this bling.
  • Thenavigation bar at the bottom is confusing. Stuff has been moved around , hidden & now must be hunted. Again, why?
  • Saving links to Instapaper/Readitlater has become  a chore. You must tap open the tweet, tap open the link, tap the icon at the bottom, select save. Four levels. When previously they did it with two, via ‘Swipe to reveal’. Unacceptable.
Twitter for iPhone was one of the best apps on iOS. Simple, clean, uncluttered & elegant. Now it’s a clunky mishmash.

What was the point of buying out Tweetie then? Twitter has removed everything that Tweetie had introduced [they pioneered swipe to reveal]

I guess it is time to move on…


Update: Bought Tweetbot at a discount. Love it.

Note: You cannot log out of the Twitter app as such. You have two options:

  • Delete the app. [Tap & hold icon, tap on the ‘x’ when the icons jiggle]
  • Go to iPhone settings> Twitter > select account > scroll down & ‘Delete Account’. This will affect the integrated sharing via Mobile Safari, Photos & any other twitter apps that use the login.Of course, you can always add your account again.

Switching accounts quickly: Swipe your finger right to left across the navigation bar at the bottom.

Accessing Direct Messages [DM] inbox quickly: Swipe your finger over the “Me” tab, upwards.

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