Friday, July 30, 2010

Flipboard: the same stuff, but more interesting looking

Flipboard is an app with an interesting premise: display your choice of news and social chatter in a "digital magazine" format, complete with cover and magazine-style layouts.

While the project seems to still be in a sort of beta mode (I had to wait a week or so to be able to hook into my Facebook and Twitter accounts), the content is displayed in a visually enticing way, leading to me actually reading more content than I would if I had to click through a long scrolling page. The act of flipping pages tends to break up that monotony.

When the app starts up, you are presented with a generated "cover", here is one with a photo pulled from Apartment Therapy, one of the "magazines" I'm subscribing to in the app. Below you can see the table of contents with various issues to flip through.

What Flipboard does is data crawl the various websites I have set up and creates little articles with snippets of the text/photos/media from the websites, and present a link to read the full article on the web. Facebook gets a mix of both photos, status updates, and articles that people are "liking" and posting. This is a lot more interesting than the standard "news feed" that Facebook gives its users.

Twitter is another big aspect of this digital zine creator. Along with displaying the general tweets of everyone I follow, Flipboard also will display the text of any articles linked to from tweets, as well as photos. This is an especially nice way of previewing what people talking about in an age of shortened links without easily identified websites.

Ultimately, Flipboard makes the news that I'd be looking at on a regular basis anyway more interesting to read, so it will be staying on my iPad for a while. The only downside is that a lot of text is cut off, and some links don't register completely. I'd really like to see a way to display the full text of a link without having to pop open a web browser window inside the app. But, as a way to get news in a visually interesting and stimulating way, I'd say that Flipboard is a 5 star app worthy of anyone who gets a lot of news from the internet and has social circles to follow.

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