iPad Gem: Flipboard

by Dean Mattson

Flipboard is an innovative new app which gives you a much better way to read your Twitter and, to a lesser extent, your Facebook accountss. What it does it take all the updates, the pictures and the links to articles the people you follow have posted and then puts them into a magazine type format.

For example, here is the “front page” of my Facebook feed this morning in Flipboard :

I can now tap on any of the pictures or text which will let me see the full entry, let me see any replies and let me add my own reply. It’s really well done! I’d about given up on both Twitter and Facebook but this might change that around.

There’s also some other preselected feeds you can add, but I haven’t added any of those. I already have enough things to read and unless someone puts together a great news collection, I’ll probably just stick to my Twitter and Facebook accounts.

There are a couple of things that should be improved. First, the Twitter integration is a lot better than Facebook’s because in Facebook it’ll only show your friends’ updates and not the updates from the pages you’re a fan of. I’m a fan of some news organizations, TV shows, podcasts, and musical acts and it would be great to get those updates in Flipboard and make it much more like a magazine.

Another quirk in the program is you’re never sure when it’s going to update. I launched it this morning and all the Twitter updates were the very same ones that were there six hours before. It wasn’t until 15 minutes later when I relaunched the app that I saw new entries. Maybe a refresh button could be added?

One other improvement I would suggest: Less clicks! If someone links to an article, there’ll be a short excerpt shown in Flipboard along with it’s headline and a picture if it finds one. If you click on that, it’ll show a full screen version which has the headline, the pictures and maybe four paragraphs of the article. To see the full article, you have to click again and it’ll take you to the website where you can finally read the full article. I’d like some kind of way to see the full article after that first click.

But if you have an iPad, definitely download this app and give it a try. After all, it’s free! You can see how developers are figuring out how to use that extra space the iPad gives them and making it more than just a big iPhone. Instead of giving you a long list of items to scroll through, they’re figuring out how to present things in more innovative and attractive ways.