Zite on Friday announced the availability of its newsreading app on the iPhone, wrapping up an exceptionally busy week for news app developers.
The news followed, by just a few days, Flipboard’s launch of an iPhone-compatible universal app, a successor to the company’s year-old—and much-lauded—”social magazine” for iPad. Similarly, Google on Thursday announced the launch of its new Google Currents reader for iPhone and iPad.
Zite is more similar to Flipboard, in that both tie into a user’s social media—like Twitter and Facebook—to produce headlines; Currents instead features a partnership with online publishers to make their content available in that app.
Zite’s new iPhone offering is a little different from the other two apps. Both Flipboard and Currents are graphic-driven—requiring users to click on icons to get to the headlines. Zite, though, is headline-driven: Flipboard offers just two stories per iPhone page, but Zite doubles that number. Zite’s iPhone app also has a scrolling menu across the top that lets users shift quickly between categories.
And if you have multiple iOS devices, you’ll probably want to sign up for a Zite account, to sync your preferences and news sources between your iPhone and iPad. Flipboard also has a new account system for similar purposes—and Google products are incomplete, of course, without a Google account.
Although the introduction of the iPad was initially seen by old-media publishers as a digital tool that might help them save their businesses—and, at long last, appears to be doing just that—this week’s news signals the iPhone’s continued relevance as a newsreading device, with iPad success stories like Flipboard and Zite expanding their offerings to the smaller screen.
Zite, in particular, suggested to reporters that there were two good reasons for doing so: First, iOS users sometimes only have time to quickly check headlines on their iPhone in between meetings and other errands. Second, there are reportedly still plenty of iPhone users who don’t own iPads.
The new iPhone interface is available as part of a 1.3 update to Zite’s existing app, which now runs on any device with iOS 4.0 or later.