I’ve tried several different news readers on my #ipad, and it wasn’t until I tried #flipboard that I fell in love. Flipboard bills itself as a “personalized, social magazine” and it really is. It looks like a magazine. You even flip pages like a magazine. And it is just plain beautiful.
Flipboard is fairly straightforward in terms of its purpose — it allows you to select from a variety of different sources of information (including your own Facebook and Twitter account) and have it displayed in a beautifully laid out, easy to read magazine format.
I’ve been a NewsRack user for some time now. And when Pulse was introduced I bought that as well. Both had their issues, and while I preferred the look and feel of the Pulse newsreader, it wasn’t as easy to quickly read through my feeds as it was to do with NewsRack — which, while it isn’t as pretty, made straightforward and what it sacrificed in prettiness it made up for in efficiency.
Flipboard isn’t necessarily the most efficient in terms of getting through a lot of different content, but once you start to use it you’ll find you don’t even care.
The app opens with the equivalent of a magazine cover. A moving magazine cover that shifts from one image to the next with the only consistency being the Flipboard logo and the word “<Flip>” in small letters on the right. And flip it is — to navigate to the table of contents, you simply drag your finger from left to right across the screen, which causes the page to turn to the table of contents.
On the Flipboard content page you have nine blocks for assigning content — two of the blocks are pre-assigned to Facebook and Twitter and the other seven are available for you to assign content.
Flipboard allows you to search for Twitter users and lists as a basis for your content, or you can choose content that has been preselected by the Flipboard editors. Some of the pre-defined categories include World News, Business, Finance, Design, Photos, as well as Sports, “Green” (environmental) and even The Onion. Think of it as selecting the sections of your own magazine.
When you’re done adding content, it is easy enough to read it by simply selecting a section and flipping to it. One of the near touches is that when you do flip to a section, you can see multiple pages turn.
All of the pages look like they have been laid out by hand. On some pages, articles and pictures will be split left and right; in other cases, a picture may cover the entire top of the page. Other pages of Flipboard will seamlessly mix pictures and content. All of it looks amazing.
If you tap on an article it will expand to fill the entire screen. Not usually the entire article — usually just the excerpt at the top, with retweets of the article located at the bottom of the page. At the very bottom of the page is the option to add your own retweet of the article, which makes the literally a social magazine — enjoyable to read, easy and enjoyable to pass on to your friends through your Twitter account. Each page then also makes it easy enough to read the full article content on the web (once you are in this “reading mode” you can also swipe across to simply go to the zoomed in version of the next article — a smart move, otherwise you’d have to do twice as much work to read all the way through the feed).
I can’t really think of anything to complain about Flipboard. Certainly, it isn’t as efficient for plowing through a lot of content, but it is much more enjoyable. It does appear to limit the number of “sections” you can add, but it also appears that you can combine multiple subjects into a section — so I think I have to learn more about how this works. Plus, I have kind of come to realize that many I don’t need to read so many different feeds?
Anyway, I strongly recommend Flipboard for iPad. It’s one of the best #apps I’ve come across for the iPad, and it’s free.