Flipboard is an app for the iPad, iPhone, and Android that connects the best aspects of print media with the best parts of social media. It gives the user the organization of newspaper sections, the appearance and functionality of magazines, and the sharing capabilities of social media.
It has been around for quite some time; in fact, I downloaded it about a year ago. At the time it did not function like I wanted it to, or perhaps I didn’t understand it well enough, or even a not-so-friendly user interface made seeing its potential difficult. I abandoned it in favor of Google Reader. I was content with saving my RSS feeds to Goggle Reader, and we got along quite well. Recently, I logged into Google Reader to find an announcement: Google was going to retire its Reader. I cringed. We were so happy…I understood Google’s explanation for discontinuing he service, but I was sad…how will I aggregate my RSS feeds now? I did not want to bookmark them and individually go to them every day; there had to be an acceptable RSS reader somewhere. Flipboard was back on my radar.
Flipboard is amazing. You can save each individual RSS feed as its own tile on the Flipboard screen. This allows you to go specifically only to that feed if you want. However, there is a feature titled “Cover Stories” where it pulls popular items from all your feeds and you can leaf through the most frequently looked at.
This app goes beyond RSS feeds. As I mentioned above, it combines the sharing capabilities of social media. Connect as many of your social media networks as you want, for example, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, Google+, and Tumblr. Not only can you post to these accounts, but Flipboard retrieves the feeds from these sources as well. You can have a tile on your Flipboard that goes directly to your Twitter feed, but items from each of these feeds will appear in “Cover Stories”.
Flipboard also has an abundance of interest categories you can select to creat tiles on your Flipboard. When you tap that particular tile, you can view articles relating to that interest. There are subcategories within each interest to showcase more specific information, such as a particular style of humor, entertainment publication, or sports team.
In other words, “Cover Stories” pulls from all your social networks, all your RSS feeds (blogs), news sources, and interests. You can select to just view one individually or scan thorough all and see the “highlights”. Just like a newspaper, the front section is the highlights but there are more specific sections as well.
Flipboard is formatted for the user to flick from right to left to see more content. It mimics the movement of turning a page, but without it being too page-like. There are no fake pages that curl as you move your finger; however, the illusion of turning pages is present. Flipboard doesn’t mimic the look of paper because it isn’t an imitation of anything; it is its own app with its own defining characteristics.
Among those characteristics is its newest feature: magazines. Magazines allow you to save any item from Flipboard into a “magazine”, which is basically like your own interest category. You can make magazines public or private. A private magazine would be great to save articles you’d like to read later. A public one would be one you’d like to share with anyone. Instead of posting links on Twitter or Facebook, Flipboard allows you to “flip” an article into the collection and people who have added that magazine to their tiles can instantly see it. If you have Flipboard already, check out Teaching and Technology’s Flipboard Magazine. If you don’t have Flipboard, you should download it. It is available for iPad, iPhone, and Android.