Flipboard Raises Game with Updated App
My iPad is bursting at the seams with wonderful applications. If I had to pick just one of them as the romantic ideal of what a tablet app can and should be, it would be Flipboard. This "social magazine" -- which brings together stuff from Facebook, Twitter, and the entire Web into a wonderfully browsable package -- simply couldn't have existed in the pre-iPad era. And its user interface is a thing of wonder: an amazingly polished, fun experience that both feels like a magazine and like nothing I've ever seen before. It's not just the best one I've seen on an iPad app; it's one of the best ones I've seen on anything.
Can you tell that I kind of like this program? Well, now I like it even more. The company is rolling out an update today, and cofounder Mike McCure briefed me on it last week and gave me the chance to spend a couple of days with it before it hit the App Store.
Flipboard hasn't changed radically, but there are a bunch of improvements that make it even more....well, Flipboardy.
- Until now, the only way to read a feed within Flipboard was to add it as a section-a requirement akin to forcing you to subscribe to a magazine without having the chance to flip through it at the newsstand. The new version revamps the browser you use to find sources, giving you commitment-free access to all of its sources. You can still add your favorites as sections, but you can also peruse stuff willy-nilly if you choose.
- You can now connect your Linked In account to Flipboard, creating a section of stories recommended by your business connections there.
- Stories from Flipboard partners such as All Things Digital, The New Yorker, and National Geographic-which are displayed in customized formats that look particularly magazine-like-are more artfully woven into the interface. (You used to have to tap your way through an intermediary page that showed articles in shrunken form; now you go straight to the article.)
- When you're reading an article in Flipboard, you can swipe your way on to the next story without having to backtrack into the main section page.
- There's now a "Popular on Flipboard" flag that identifies stories that lots of folks are checking out.
Flipboard has a number of worthy competitors that are either a little bit like it or quite a bit like it-apps such as Zite, Taptu, Pulse, and News360, all of which have earned spots on my iPad. And yet it also stands alone. It's such a perfect fit for the iPad that it's a little hard to envision it anywhere else. Which is why I'm curious about what it'll look like when it hits the iPhone -- which McCue told me it'll do before too long.
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