Online content is growing exponentially every day. Every morning when I turn on my computer, fire up my iPad, or look at the news on my iPhone, there is not only a greater amount of information to intake than the day before, but there are many more ways to view, or consume that information. There are new social media sites, new blogs, and new streams to follow. At times it can get a little overwhelming. For this reason, any time I can combine those media streams to one source for viewing, I do. This is exactly what Flipboard for the iPad does. It takes updates, pictures, posts, and news from your favorite sources and puts them all in one place for your viewing. Best of all, it does it in a format that is easy (and fun) to use!
If you’re anything like me (and if you’re reading this I’m sure you are), you have multiple accounts that you follow every day. I have two twitter accounts, a Facebook, a Linkedin, and a Flickr account that I check at least once a day if not multiple times. Not to mention the 20+ blogs and 50+ websites that I follow. Flipboard takes (some) of these accounts and content and places it all together for you to view easily. What makes Flipboard special is that it formats it like a magazine. You have titles, larger full page articles with pictures, smaller articles with pictures, and even smaller yet (and in the case of the Twitter feeds single lines) text only articles. There is no real indication of how it decides what content deserves a full page, and what is limited to small, or text only articles. As best I can tell it’s a random selection.
The first thing you’ll notice when you install and launch the app is the two squares in the top left corner to add your Facebook, and Twitter accounts. When you tap on these squares you are asked for your information (user name, password). Once you have entered that you get a message telling you that you have been placed into a cue to be added. This process takes about 3-5 days(at the time of my submission it took 3 days, but your wait time may vary depending on requests) and you get an email when your accounts have been added. At that time you will be able to access the content of these two accounts. With Facebook you get the content you would have from your news feed. You are shown videos, comments, status updates, and pictures. The one thing that you are not shown (thankfully) is the add-on applications to Facebook such as Farmville.
When it comes to Twitter content, this is where Flipboard really shines. You see tweets as you normally would, but you also see the images (instead of an image link). You also get the content on the other side of the shortened links. For example if someone posts a link to a newspaper article, that article shows directly below the tweet! It makes reading and keeping up with your twitter info a snap. With Flipboard you also have the option of adding a box for specific groups, or lists that you follow on twitter. I have quite a few people that I follow on twitter, but sometimes I only want to see what my family is up to, so I have a list for that. With Flipboard, you can open only that list and be shown only that content. (If you’re not using lists, I highly recommend that you look into them).
Along with Twitter and Facebook, you can add many different news streams to your Flipboard digital magazine. Flipboard has some suggestions for you, but they also have a whole (searchable) list for you to browse and add content from. There is content available from popular sources such as Wired magazine, E! Online, and USA Today.
While Flipboard is constantly adding the media sources available to you, selection may be the biggest downside of this application. There isn’t a large enough variety available yet for me to ditch my traditional RSS reader. There is no Flickr addition yet, no Linkedin, and no way to add your own custom content (I think the custom content may be more of a formatting issue for each source so I don’t know if that will ever be possible). I would also like to see the number of sources you are able to have at one time raised. Right now you are limited to 9 sources. For me this is not enough. I have more than 9 twitter lists that I would like to be able to follow individually.
Overall I think Flipboard is a wonderful app for media consumption. It is my favorite way to keep up with my twitter updates, and a great way to see my Facebook news feed. If they increase the media sources to choose from, as well as the number of available spots in your “magazine”, this would be a great all in one application.