Monthly Archives: November 2010

Flipboard: Your Own Magazine For News And Social Networking On The iPad

The Flipboard front page(s). You can add as many sources as you like; Flipboard creates new pages to hold them.

Forgive me if this blog is starting to look like it’s all about the iPad; that’s where all the most interesting developments in on-screen reading are happening right now. The appearance, not only of a great device for reading, but almost overnight an installed base of millions, has triggered a flood of iPad reading apps for newspapers, magazines and books. I’d be interested to find out, for example, what proportion of Kindle books bought from Amazon are – being reading in the Kindle app on iPads…

I just counted “reading” apps on my own iPad. There are 18, including a number of “generic” eBook readers, as well as apps for individual magazines like Wired.

I’ve been reading the New York Times every day for weeks now. The iPad app is a great experience. It really is like reading a newspaper, with professional content – except that it’s even better, since I no longer have to fold and unfold it, manipulate huge sections. etc.

Whether it’s good enough that I’ll be prepared to pay a subscription for it from next year is another question.

I’ve been spending a lot more time every day on my iPad than on my laptop. One of the reasons is the Flipboard app, which not only allows you to aggregate your own news and social networking sites, but displays the content in very clean, pleasing layout with lots of white space.

Facebook, given the Flipboard treatment.

Reading the posts on my Facebook page is a lot more pleasant using Flipboard. It’s like a magazine; I flip through “pages” of posts, rather than scrolling down through an endless window. Double-tapping on an entry zooms it to a full page, where you can read others’ or add your own comments.

Flipboard does fall down on video. Since the iPad does not support Flash, videos in Flipboard won’t play. Apple itself got around this issue for YouTube with a YouTube app; it’s not outwith the bounds of possibility that this could be somehow hooked in to Flipboard to enable video, but it’s definitely an issue right now.

The BBC News website

The BBC news website is simply a joy to read this way. Again, instead of scrolling, you flip through pages like you’re reading a magazine. When you want to read a full piece, double-tapping takes you to a full window, where you have the option to “Read on Web”. That dumps you back into Safari. It would be nice to see Flipboard go a level deeper, and give you a paginated version of the story, with the same clean layout it uses for headings.

However, for an app which launched only in July, it’s made a huge leap forward in combining news and social networking websites in one, easy-to-use and comfortable UI. I have a lot of ideas on how Flipboard could move forward to become a premiere app for iPad users. It would also be interesting to see how the lessons of Flipboard could be applied to websites viewed and laptops and desktops.

I’ve included some more screen shots from my iPad below to show just how attractive Flipboard makes these sites.

Flipboard’s own news aggregator.

New York Times World News.

Another magazine-style layout of news from the BBC website.

Facebook: the social networking magazine, Flipboard-style.

Nice treatment of photographs posted by one of my FB friends.