Flipboard Review - Is it a Game Changer? Yep.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a preview of Flipboard, and due to its immense popularity and media buzz, it was impossible to use in the manner intended. The Facebook and Twitter implementation didn’t work, and required signing up and waiting for an invitation. A frustratingly long week later, and I finally received my invitation. A week later, and I’m happy to say that not only Flipboard matches the hype, this free app should sell iPads on its own.

What makes the iPad a unique design challenge is the intimate experience it provides. As opposed to the keyboard/mouse/monitor dynamic, which removes you from the computing experience somewhat, the iPad, with its small screen, and smooth touchscreen, allows you to pull, tug, pinch and spread your way through the Internet. It’s a very natural way to browse the Internet, but few applications take advantage of it. Enter Flipboard.
Flipboard pulls information from various sources-RSS, Twitter, Facebook-and presents it to you in a print friendly, grid like layout. The feeds are completely customizable, and you can select up to seven feeds to follow, plus the default Facebook and Twitter Feeds, which can’t be removed. Click on one of the feeds, and the page flips to show links shared by people in that feed. It’s a very intuitive and simple interface, uncluttered my endless options and feature bloat.

More after the break…
Flipboard and Twitter

Twitter, when used correctly, can be a tremendous source for news, information and inspiration. If you’re one of the ones who complain about Twitter being nothing more than a venue for people to talk about their lunch, well, you’re doing it wrong. I follow a number of influential designers, admen, news agencies, and bloggers, all providing a torrent of bite-size information. Often, these influencers will share links to interesting stories. Problem is, it’s impossible to see what the link might contain without clicking on it:

When that same content is loaded into Flipboard, it pulls the photo and first few paragraphs into a more appealing layout:

The actual webpage is cached in the background, making it easy to click right through to the article for the rest of the story (and, more importantly to the content provider, the ad views). You can also comment, email or retweet the story directly from the app, making it easy to share stories with your network.
Flipboard starts out with with a couple of feeds loaded, and it’s easy to add feeds directly from the app. But Flipboard really shines when you combine it with Twitter’s lists feature. Using lists, I can literally create my own magazines with content I want to read. I have a “magazine” for Advertising News, powered by some of the great thinkers in the advertising industry. I have a “magazine” for the Egotist Network, which pulls design news and inspiration from around the country. 

Flipboard and Facebook

Flipboard’s Facebook feed is a little less useful, in my opinion. Because the bulk of my friends status updates are actually about what they had for lunch, I get little in the way of information. But it does provide a quick and easy way to read a bunch of updates at once, or photos that a friend posted. Of course, you can “Like” and comment directly from the app as well.

Conclusion
Since Flipboard’s launch, numerous bloggers have rushed to proclaim print dead For Real This Time. I don’t see Flipboard as a replacement for print publications. I still don’t get all of the feature stories from, say, Esquire, on their website until some time after the print mag, and that’s some of my favorite reading. But it has replaced the endless numbers of blogs that I used to follow for the most part. Flipboard is perfect for quick reading on the go, and it’s the first app to make me which I’d shelled out for the 3G-enabled iPad. It’s gone from the last page of my iPad en route to purgatory, to my most used app. Check it out on the App Store-again, it’s FREE!

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