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Browse the news in tags with Zen News

New iPhone app lets you discover hot topics and news stories with tag clouds from a dozen mainstream sources alongside new media sources like Twitter.

Zensify, the makers of the Zensify iPhone app, have a new iPhone app out called Zen News that helps users discover the latest headlines from a dozen news sources. These range from established media powerhouses like The New York Times, BBC News, and The Washington Post to TweetMeme and soon other online-only news sources.

The app makes use of the same tag cloud navigation found in Zensify, the company's social aggregation tool. This takes the most prevalent topics or keywords and organizes them by size, with the larger words being more important. Users can then drill down into each keyword, which filters the group of stories the app displays.

Once you find a story you want to read, the app gives you a quick summary, as well as the option to either read it in the embedded browser, or hop out to Safari proper. It also lets you "favorite" a post for reading later. These favorites can currently only be viewed while in the app, but the company told us that third party centralized bookmarking tools like ReadItLater and Instapaper are on the road map to be added in later versions. This would let you find stories within the app, then read them when you get back to a machine with a larger screen.

There are plenty of things to like about this app. It's quite zippy over 3G, and switching sources is a breeze. In that way, it's quite similar to the iPhone's included weather app--you just flick your finger and it changes the source. You can also customize what sources you want to see with some simple toggles in the settings menu. This will be more important as that list of sources continues to grow.

Zen News will remain a free app, although Zensify intends to create paid versions of it for businesses that want to hunt for specific topics from a specialized list of sources. The company is also planning to make its currently-free Zensify iPhone app a paid tool beginning November 16, when it will jump up to $1.99.

Zen News lets you view the big stories by keyword (left) or topic (right). CNET