Mobile

How will news look on Google Glass? Zite launches an app to figure it out

Image Credit: Ricardo Bilton/VentureBeat

Personal newsreader Zite doesn’t have an app for Windows 8 yet, but the company is already developing one for Google Glass.

While this should tell you a lot about what developers think of Windows 8, it actually says more about their views on Google’s new, often controversial technology.

“I haven’t been this excited about a technology in 20 years,” Zite CEO Mark Johnson told VentureBeat on Tuesday.

For Johnson, Glass’s appeal comes from being able to be a part of the device’s very early life, a time when developers both inside and outside Google are still trying to figure out what the device and its form factor are capable of.

Zite, as a news app, has a very clear stake in those discussions. Johnson says that while Glass is still young, he still thinks it’s important for the news world to experiment with how news consumption will work with wearable devices. (Fellow news companies like The New York Times, Zite owner CNN, and Elle are also experimenting with Glass.)

“The challenge with this platform is that it’s really, really new, so there aren’t many people to follow,” Johnson said. “Everyone’s a new entrant in this space, which I think is fun because it’s all about wondering what’s possible.”

So far, Zite on Glass is fairly simple and just offers users a quick look at the headlines and text of recommended stories. (Glass can also read the stories out loud, though the device’s bone conduction-based audio makes the experience uneven, to say the least.)

Johnson says the company next plans to tackle notifications. Since Zite already knows what topics users are interested in, it can offer users highly contextual (on, say, a location basis) and highly relevant notifications (Don’t like celebrity gossip? Zite won’t notify you about them). Still, it’s all pretty basic so far.

Zite comes (back) to Android

But to show that Zite isn’t thinking too far ahead of what’s going on today, the company also announced a new version of its Android app, which hasn’t seen a significant update since last August.

In the latest version, Zite has taken pains to make the app feel as tailored to the Android experience as possible. It also takes a lot of cues from Zite 2.0, which launched on iOS last December. This means a new, more Android-like interface, a Zite widget (that displays users’ top 10 stories), and more story topics.

Johnson says Zite is also planning an Android tablet app as well as a version of the newsreader tailored for iOS 7.

“I’m hoping all of this shows that we have a real commitment to our platforms,” he said.


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