Flipboard for the iPhone: A Beautiful Transition

I bought an iPad on release day, and since then I’ve seen my parents follow suit and get an iPad and an iPad 2 in the following years. Although I use my iPad every day, it’s not for writing, drawing or creating, it’s basically an e-reader. And my main app for that is Flipboard.

Had you asked me months ago if Flipboard would work on the iPhone, I would’ve told you that it was a stupid idea. Flipboard is so effective on the iPad because of the added real estate; it lets the app breathe, and the stories come to life. There’s no way it would work on the iPhone. No way.

Boy was I wrong.

The Concept

To understand why Flipboard is such a revolutionary concept, let’s take a moment to break it all down. The idea is that Flipboard is a magazine that is entirely curated by you. The table of contents is made up of subjects that you choose, and they’re updated on the spot so that you’re always in the know. And once you get into each subject, the individual posts or articles are rendered so beautifully that you wonder if there’s a designer hammering away at the speed of light to deliver your content to you personally. It’s just that pretty.

The first time you fire up Flipboard, you're greeted with a beautiful splash and login page.

The first time you fire up Flipboard, you're greeted with a beautiful splash and login page.

Each subject comes from a feed. You can include popular social networking services such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, but then there are other options such as a feed from a website such as All Things D or Fast Company. And if that wasn’t enough, Flipboard has their own series of channels, including FlipSports and FlipNews, so you’re pretty much covered, no matter what you’re looking for.

Going Into the Magazine

Select a subject and immediately you’re transported to a page with your content, organized blog style with the newest stuff up top. How many posts per page varies greatly depending on how Flipboard pulls it up. For example, you could have two posts top and bottom of the page, just one or sometimes even three if they’re short. Each post may have a dividing line between it, or it could just be on its own in a thought bubble. There are tons of options.

You start with a few cover images, and then each post can be displayed in multiple ways.

You start with a few cover images, and then each post can be displayed in multiple ways.

Videos even play right in the app, and you can see up to three posts per page.

Videos even play right in the app, and you can see up to three posts per page.

When it really gets pretty though is when a picture is posted. Sometimes it will come up as an image at the top of the screen, other times it’s the background for the entire page, which just looks beautiful. Don’t believe me? Well look:

See? Now don't you feel silly.

See? Now don't you feel silly.

Each image fades to black on the top and bottom, making it look like it’s a bent picture you’re holding in your hands. Of course, you can also touch the image to see it without the fade, another nice addition.

Navigating

Moving from post to post is part of the appeal of Flipboard on the iPad, because navigation is a cross between a traditional magazine and an old-school flip clock going from side to side. Flipboard on the iPhone is different though, because instead of flipping side to side, you go up and down with your thumb. The iPhone edition seems much more natural to use on the smaller screen, as flicking up and down with your thumb is just easy and quick to do with just one hand.

It's kind of hard to catch, but the folding animation reveals the page behind it.

It's kind of hard to catch, but the folding animation reveals the page behind it.

The animation used between screens is nice as well. The page folds in half and then moves up and down, depending on which way you go, and then reveals the page behind it. It’s similar to the page curl feature in iBooks, but with a bit more panache.

Beyond the Surface

Each post on a page displays either the post itself or the link from the post, be it an image or video. If you want to find out more or see the original post, just touch it and you’ll either get a pop up or you’ll go to a new screen with just the post. And if there’s a link in there somewhere, just touch that and it’ll go to an in-app browser that works very well.

Pulling up a link in a post takes you to a built-in web browser

Pulling up a link in a post takes you to a built-in web browser

Another nice thing integrated into the iPhone version is the new Cover Stories feature. On the iPad, the cover of your Flipboard is just a cool image, and that’s all you get. With the iPhone version, you see a few select posts that Flipboard picks at random and then you can just skim through them quickly. Flipboard says this is the option you’ll use when you’re in line at the grocery store, and I couldn’t agree more — it’s exactly what I did today, as a matter of fact.

What Makes It So Special?

Flipboard is probably used 80% more than any other app on my iPad, because it’s an easy way to go through all of my social networks, get my news fix, find out what’s going on in the world of sports and call it a day. It’s quick and easy, but beautiful to look at, so I just enjoy it.

Moving it to the iPhone means that you could potentially get rid of both the Facebook and Twitter apps, or just shove them into a folder somewhere. You don’t need those individual apps anymore if all you do is check the feed, you just need Flipboard. In the short time that it’s been out, it’s already replaced those two apps for me, and I can’t see going back.

Final Thoughts

The app is barely 24 hours old at this point, and as such, there are still a few little hiccups. The system was down almost immediately after I downloaded the app because of too many people signing in, and as was the case with the iPad version, occasionally it takes a bit longer than you’d like to load up a section. It’s not the end of the world, but it can be frustrating.

Otherwise, this has become my new favorite app. I mean, it was my favorite on the iPad anyways, but now for the iPhone, it’s really just … awesome.

I’ve found myself at a loss for words numerous times while reviewing this one (which is odd for me), mostly because it’s hard to quantify exactly how much Flipboard as a whole has made my life easier. But to sum it up, you know those apps that you get that just change the way you do things? Flipboard is one of those apps. And if you don’t give it a try, the only person that suffers is you.


Summary

Create a personal magazine that refreshes every time you open it.

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