The developers of Flipboard seem to understand the formula behind Apple’s successful approach to design: keep it clean, keep it simple, only include what is necessary. It’s apparent from the latest iPhone to the company’s website and product packaging. It’s no wonder then that Flipboard fits in so well on the iPad. It embodies those principles perfectly.
Flipboard is something that is perhaps easier to comprehend by experiencing it than by reading about it. It is a way of reading various feeds: these can be websites linked to from your social feeds (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), Google Reader RSS feeds, or news from any of the pre-selected sources that Flipboard has pre-loaded.
A social/RSS/feed reader is hardly anything new in the AppStore. What sets it apart is the way it presents this information. “Magazine-like” is probably the best way to describe it, but that hardly does it justice (I’d take Flipboard over a real magazine any day).
It’s fully customizable, so if you don’t want all of the “News,” “Lifestyle,” and “Oprah” boards that Flipboard presents you with on first download, you can easily remove them. RSS and Twitter feeds can be found under the Social header, to be easily added. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Flickr are supported as well.
When scanning through feeds, they’re presented in a conglomeration of magazine pages. Page-turning is immediate, and is done with a simple swipe.
The layout is clean, minimal, and stunning.
Pulse News Reader may be the closest thing in the AppStore to Flipboard. While Pulse presents a screen full of pictures for each feed, Flipboard gives you a chunk of the text as well. Not all Flipboard feeds will show pictures, so loading is generally much faster than on Pulse. Pulse also causes trouble for those of us with long lists of feeds – their organization makes it way too easy to miss some of them. Flipboard can handle hundreds of feeds at a time, with a presentation that is infinitely more pleasant than a standard list-based RSS or Twitter app.
This video can show you more (though the way he says “…because it knows who your friends are” is just a little creepy):
At the moment, the app is only available for iPad. The developers have confirmed that an iPhone (and iPod touch) version is on its way. It will be interesting to see how the app translates to a much smaller screen, but that high-resolution display can’t hurt its chances.
While it could easily be sold for $5 or so, Flipboard is a free app. As they’re running a business, one can imagine that we may eventually see advertisements or a premium version. It could be, however, that they are making money from news sources that they pre-load on the app.
This isn’t likely the first time you’ve heard about this phenomenal reader. But if you haven’t checked it out yet, you may be missing out on one of the best ways to read content on your iPad.