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Zite update aims to better highlight stories, publications

Newest version gives users -- both existing and new -- better tools for discovering relevant stories. Plus, Zite added new publishing partners.

Zite now gives new users an easy to digest tutorial on using the news aggregation app.

Zite, the personal news aggregator, released on Wednesday a new version of its app that aims to help people discover more stories relevant to them, while better highlighting publishers.

With version 2.3, which is now available on iOS devices, the CNN-owned Zite is trying to make its personalized magazine work better for users, especially those new to the service.

As a result, explained CEO Mark Johnson, Zite will now gray out articles that have already been read and make publications' titles appear in what's called the "topic drawer," the list of topics that show up when a person thumbs-up an article.

By clicking on a publication's name in the topic drawer, Johnson said, users can see other articles from that outlet that Zite has recommended for them. Previously, there was a way to see all recommended articles from a single source, but doing so was a more cumbersome process, he added.

Another new step in Zite's bid to retain users is a feature that the company is calling -- perhaps jokingly -- "frog cooking." The idea here is that recently-added users can learn more about Zite as they go. So after every 10 articles they read, they'll see a new tip pop up.

Also, to try make it easier for new users to stay with the app, Zite has also created an easy-to-digest tutorial.

Johnson said this is a better approach to help existing users figure out features they may like, but didn't already know about. An example is a tip that pops up explaining why giving an article a thumbs-up or thumbs-down is a good idea. "Tell us what you think," the dialogue box reads. "We'll show you more or less like this story based on your feedback."

The new version of Zite is not currently available on Android devices, but Johnson said it will be out soon.

Although Zite features content from a large number of sources, some join Zite's publisher network, which allows them to better highlight certain stories. The network is also designed to try to help publishers make more money from their content.

Today, Zite said a number of new publications have joined its publisher network, including Fast Company, Atlantic Media, Business Insider, GigaOm, ReadWrite, and others.