Finally, more than two months since the free news reader Zite released its 2.0 version, the app has gotten the much-anticipated 2.1 update. This update is rather unique in that it’s very much a damage control release, aiming to fix a ton of issues that the app introduced in version 2.0. This ranges from re-enabling sharing to Google Plus, to putting back in certain swipe gestures, to fixing the issue I faced a lot, where swiping to flip pages caused you to activate the slide to like/dislike feature.
Another noticeable difference is that the owl used as the logo is now gone. I didn’t really care one way or another about the owl, but I know that others did, and I do have to say I don’t quite get what an own has to do as the icon for a news reader. Either way, it’s nice to see the company step up and give the users what they want, rather then force their own idea of a good app on its users.
Despite many people saying in the comments that they stopped using Zite because of 2.0 though, a post on Zite’s blog actually talks about the success of Zite 2.0. I’m not quite sure I buy what’s being sold in that part of the post, as the statistics that are being used to prove its success are highly suspect. Take for instance this quote from the blog post:
Users giving feedback through thumbing articles up and down doubled, thanks in large part to users being able to thumb articles directly from the section view.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but personally I think I’ve liked or disliked 10-15 times as many articles since 2.0. That does not however mean I started using that particular feature too much, but rather than the biggest annoyance of 2.0 for me was that swiping to flip pages caused me to accidentally do just that. I find it a bit odd to admit to having fixed an issue with accidental likes/dislikes in the change log and then use the number of likes/dislikes to prove the app was successful. Another thing I found a bit peculiar was this quote:
Article views per user, one of our primary metrics of how well we’re doing, increased by 11%.
The update to Zite hit right around Christmas, meaning a lot of new iOS users loaded it on their devices thanks to its placement in the App Store. On top of that, I’d think any update would spike the use of the app by actually reminding people that they have the app, not to mentioned increased press surrounding a major app update. Then you have even more bugs that would affect this, like crashes that force you to browse back to your article, pages that never load properly (had a ton of those), and something that annoys me a lot about Zite: the app sometimes have to reload from scratch if you’ve run it in the background for just a few seconds. Finally, I’d think any app like Zite would have an ever increasing number of page views. When you consider all of that, an 11% increase sounds quite low for a two month period, and I do think they lost more users with update 2.0 than they’re willing to admit.
Putting that somewhat weird blog post aside, I want to congratulate and thank the Zite team for fixing one of my favorite apps. I haven’t accidentally liked or disliked anything since the update, and while that might affect one of their measurements for success, I’m at least more happy with 2.1 than 2.0.