Zite iOS 7 Update is Shite

(Yes, it rhymes. And yes, it means what you think it means. It’s an alternative I learned from working with Brits.)

I hadn’t planned on updating my iPad Mini to iOS 7 right away. But after seeing it on my hub’s iPad 3, the old iOS looked dated, so I switched. It’s OK. Looks a bit fresher and brighter. Some changes are useful, but some of my apps don’t work at all or are a bit wonky — including the App Store, which you’d think Apple would take great care to keep functional. Maybe using it on an iPhone I’d feel differently, but my overall reaction so far is, meh.

Apps, of course, are optimizing for iOS 7, mostly with positive results. That is, they mimic the look and work.

But not Zite.

After seeing this one on the hub’s IPad, I wanted nothing to do with it. But stupidly, I accidentally updated it and it’s pissing me off. Here’s why.

– Headlines

The new serif font looks more dated than the previous sans serif but thicker font. And because it’s not bold, it’s harder to read. Headlines you can’t read, can’t grab your attention. Seems a silly change just for the sake of change, and definitely not an improvement.

– Closing articles

The swipe-right feature from the last update was handy. When it worked. But it did for most of my reading, so I do miss it. Now you have to tap the X. [Update: this feature did not vanish, it’s just possibly fussier about where you swipe from. I thought it was gone because for the few days I’ve been using the updated Zite, I couldn’t get any article to close while doing the same motion I’d always done before. But my gripe about the X still stands.]

Zite screenshot

Previously, the X appeared on its own in the top left, also handy. Now it’s at the bottom next to the back arrow. If you clicked on a link in the Zite-procured article you were reading to open up a new article, you used the back arrow to return to the original article instead of closing out of it altogether and returning to your feed. Being on the bottom left, the back arrow was handily distant from the X that would close both articles. Now that the two are next to each other, it’s too easy to tap the X when you wanted the back arrow, or vice versa.

– Original web page

To accommodate this “improvement” the globe symbol that opened the original web page was sacrificed. It used to live next to the back arrow on the bottom left. This was a feature I used a lot because more often than not, in the conversion to Zite, an article was incomplete or the formatting was messed up or captions or other text went missing, and so on. Now to see the original web page, you first have to get to the bottom of the article where a link to the original web page appears. In long articles, that’s several swipes and wasted time.

Zite screenshot

Ongoing complaints

These are quibbles I had with Zite — which, yes, I do actually like and use every day — before the last update. And since they have not been addressed, I feel it’s appropriate to mention them here.

Frequently, an article I read the day before, or the day before that, will not only still appear in my Top Stories, but it will appear as a new article, that is, not grayed out. There are usually four or five such stories, annoying because you can’t help but scan the hedes of new articles, so it uses up that extra teeny bit of your time you didn’t need to spend.

For the past month or so, 99% of videos within Zite articles won’t play. At first I thought maybe I was just too late and the video was taken down before I got around to it. But it kept happening. I did a test trying to view every video I came across, even if I had zero interest in, across many different subjects, and realized there was no way that absolutely all of them would give me the same message: This video is currently unavailable/Learn more.

So I did another test: whenever I came across a video that wouldn’t play in Zite, I sent it to Pocket. Then I’d immediately open Pocket and try to play the video. It worked in Pocked every time. This was proof the issue was — is — with Zite. I have to take the extra step of sending things to Pocket that I’d normally just read in Zite and be done with it.

Lastly, all the thumbs up and down I’ve given over the nine months I’ve had my iPad Mini has lead to My Top Stories becoming increasingly repetitive and more limited in depth. Not sure how to get it to learn new interests.

Still …

… despite the complaints, Zite remains my favorite news aggregator and it’s one of the few apps on my iPad Mini that I use daily.

Have I missed anything? Do you disagree? Tell us in the comments!