Flipboard vs. Pulse vs. Currents vs. Zite: And The Winner Is…

Social Magazine Apps

I relied on Google Reader for everything “news & feeds” ever since they launched it. But today we live on an information superhighway and we’re overloaded with all the information under the sun.

I had subscribed to over 40 RSS feeds that publish 120+ articles daily. Thanks to TechCrunch & Mashable who post at least 80 articles daily (combined) and that keeps me busy whenever I check Google Reader. What’s interesting or should I say disheartening  is that 90% of their posts are irrelevant for me.

Now I have installed one of the the social magazine app called Flipboard. And yeah, I must say that it does a pretty good job as it transforms our favorite websites and blogs into a magazine. But still Flipboard was not the perfect app for me so I tried its competitor apps namely Google Currents, Pulse.me, and Zite.

Today I’m going to review the popular Social Magazine apps – Flipboard, Google Currents, Pulse, and Zite. And I’ll tell you why I prefer Zite over Flipboard as my everyday news reader.

From Google Currents To Flipboard Then Pulse And Finally To Zite

Flipboard vs. Pulse vs. Google Currents vs. Zite

Flipboard

Flipboard

The first social magazine app which I tried was Google Currents and later I switched to Flipboard in search of a better alternative when I wanted to break free from Google. It’s an awesome app and what I really liked about it is its amazing ‘flipping’ feature giving a magazine experience. It gives us a feeling that we’re reading a magazine by flipping its pages.

Needless to say, Flipboard is integrated with Google Reader and all the popular social media networks out there including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Flickr, Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube etc. so sharing is super easy and quick.

Flipboard iPhone App Screenshot

Now what’s ugly about it? Well, it’s the tight integration with social networks. Flipboard connects our app to the social networks in such a way that it pulls content from our social media accounts and shows within the app. It’s really annoying as we’re using the app to read the news and not to read the stupid Facebook wall posts. But that said, the ability to add Twitter lists is an awesome feature as it enables us to customize the feeds the way we want. Connect your twitter account to Flipboard and add your Timeline, Lists, Tweets, Favorites etc. as a source.

Update: You can block your Facebook content in Flipboard by denying permission to access your friend list and news feed.

Pulse.me

Pulse.me

Pulse is another great social magazine app. It offers Flipboard like integration with Google Reader and social networks but without pulling the contents from those accounts. So sharing with your social profiles is as easy as we do on Flipboard.

Now what’s interesting about Pulse is that we can access our social magazine from any browser. Flipboard and Google Currents currently don’t support this feature as our content resides within the app only. Again, Pulse shows a table of contents so you don’t have to flip every article. All you need to do is scroll the contents of each feed and tap the one that’s interesting to you. In Flipboard you have to tap every ‘source’ to see its recent articles.

Pulse.me iPhone App Screenshot

Although Pulse.me offers a beautiful interface what I really dislike about it is that it doesn’t offer a magazine like experience like Flipboard. If you want to continue reading a story then you need to scroll down which is no different from a traditional web page.

Again, it doesn’t work with all RSS feeds. so I added few custom feeds and instead of showing contents within the app it was just linking to the original source article or sometimes a broken page.

But I guess the reason most people prefer Pulse over Flipboard is because of its ability to showcase the posts from a single source horizontally. So that you don’t have to click each source to read its contents.

Google Currents

Google Currents

Google Currents is not probably as much popular as Pulse or Flipboard but you can give it a try as it’s a cool app.

First of all Google Currents offers a Flipboard like experience as we swipe pages instead of scrolling down. Of course, Google Currents is integrated with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, Instapaper, Pocket, etc. but it doesn’t annoy you with cross posts from your social media accounts.

Google Currents iPhone App Screenshot

And unlike Pulse.me, Google Currents are able to fetch contents from all the RSS feeds which I’ve added. Again, the navigation is super easy and super useful as it offers a button to show all the articles in a feed as a list and offers another button to navigate quickly to the next article while reading one.

Zite (My Choice)

Zite

Zite is perhaps the only real magazine app. It analyzes millions of stories each day and selects the best for you based on your interests and reading habits. You can get personalized suggestions from your Twitter, Facebook, Pocket, and Google Reader account. And I noticed that even without connecting my Zite account to the social media networks, the articles which they suggest are pretty accurate and suit my needs.

Zite iPad App Screenshot

At first you won’t see the option to add individual source to Zite. But you can add your favorite websites and blogs either by searching the same or you can add the same by clicking on the source website (when you read an article published by those website) and then by adding it to “Quicklist”.

Again, Zite doesn’t offer the flip or swipe feature and we need to scroll down to read the full article. But I feel that it’s much more smooth than Pulse. And the only thing which I don’t like about Zite is its ugly ‘logo’.

BONUS: Pocket (Read It Later)

Pocket | Read It Later

If you’re using any of these social magazine app then you must try Pocket too. Pocket is a great tool for those who prefer to bookmark websites, articles, images, texts, videos etc. to reference later. Pocket is already integrated with Flipboard, Google Currents, Pulse, Zite and over 300 other applications. You can save directly from your web browser or from your apps like Flipboard, Pulse, Google Currents, Zite, Twitter etc.

Conclusion

So now I’ve unsubscribed the feeds of Mashable and TechCrunch from Google Reader as I get their top stories on Zite. And I still use Google Reader to fetch all the important updates by the popular digital marketing blogs that I don’t want to miss.

Now, Google Reader fetches all the Digital Marketing content and Zite delivers the Business, Lifestyle and Technology content. Since Flipboard is tightly integrated with Google Reader I can access all the Google Reader content from a mobile device by using Flipboard.

  • http://twitter.com/philosophygeek Mark Johnson

    Glad you are enjoying Zite so much and thanks for declaring us the winner. If you have any suggestions for improving, just let me know!

    -Mark Johnson, CEO, Zite

    • http://www.maheshone.com Mahesh Mohan

      Appreciate your comment! I started writing this blog post several weeks back and in the original draft my preference was Google Currents as I didn’t notice that we could add individual sources by clicking on its name within the app. So, that changed my mind and that made Zite my preferred social magazine app. Zite was not even considered at first and that exactly is the reason why it is not featured in the app showcase image of this blog post.

      Will appreciate you if you make the icon more classy and also add the ability to add custom RSS feeds without changing the original idea of your app. It’s nice to read articles from websites and blogs which we don’t know and that makes Zite original.

      Thanks!

  • http://blogsandyou.com prem@tips for new blogger

    Hi Mohan

    I think all your posts are so well defined every blogger should subscribe to minterest. Probably the best and most consistent I found among all indian blogger .So in short we don’t need app to read minterest as all your articles are just awesome.

    • http://www.maheshone.com Mahesh Mohan

      Wow! This comment made my day… Thanks a ton! :)

  • zack

    Hey man thanks. I currently am using google currents as my choice! I’ve tried them all as well. Zite has issues on tablets supposedly.

    • http://www.maheshone.com Mahesh Mohan

      Even I switched to Zite from Google Currents and Flipboard. You can report the issue to Zite team (http://twitter.com/philosophygeek).

  • Siju Varghese

    Mahesh, really nice article. Really appreciate your effort in publishing this. I haven’t tried Zite yet, will definitely give a shot.

    • http://www.maheshone.com Mahesh Mohan

      Great! Try Zite and do check the next post on Zite as tere’s another article coming as I missed a point here.

  • http://scrumpy-jack.com Simon Hamp

    How do you feel now that Google Reader is coming to an end?

    • http://www.maheshone.com Mahesh Mohan

      Hi,

      I already migrated to Feedly before the Google Reader shutdown news came. That’s the best alternative to Google Reader though it can’t offer the simplicity of Google Reader. But still.. you can customize things to get a Google Reader like experience.

      Thanks!