On Friday, Zite introduced a new update to its iPad app that includes a feature called Sybil, which allows Zite to create and switch between multiple profiles on a single device. It’s a great addition to the personalized news discovery app, since it can now recommend uniquely tailored content to more than one individual in a single household.
Zite found in a survey of more than 330 iPad users that one-third share their iPads with a group of people. We’ve seen similar evidence that iPads are shared devices, with one study finding that even users living alone share their Apple tablets with other family members. Zite found that of those who share their devices, two-thirds share with one other individual, while a quarter share it with two others.
Zite CTO Mike Klass said in a press release that Sybil is the result of customer feedback. “Time and time again, we have come across multiple people within a family who want to have their own Zite, personalized to them, but only have one iPad,” said. “So, we developed ‘Sybil,’ a solution for people who want to share their iPad with a significant other, sibling, parent or hidden personality.”
Kevin Tofel wrote about how users find jailbreak workarounds to get around the lack of system-level account switching on an iPad back in July, but Zite’s app-specific approach might make more sense. After all, sharing info on many apps probably doesn’t hurt and actually could be beneficial, while for personalized content like Zite, multi-profile capabilities are ideal.
After Zite’s recent acquisition by CNN, some wondered whether it would be able to remain competitive as a distinct product and brand on its own. The addition of this great new account switching feature, which gives it an advantage over Flipboard, the biggest player on the block, helps prove that the acquisition is fuelling innovation to improve Zite as a standalone product.
Other recent improvements made by the Zite team include the ability to block specific sources entirely to no longer see their articles, as well as Twitter integration for iOS 5 devices, which allows you to automatically link Zite to your Twitter account. With the addition of Sybil, Zite is definitely making a strong play for the personalized news app crown.