Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Flipping Out Over Flipboard

By Walter Mossberg

One of the best ways of following topics that are interesting to you is Flipboard, a popular app for Apple and Android mobile devices that automatically turns social-network posts and news from online publications into beautiful, magazine-like pages you “flip” through by swiping.

Now, a new second generation of Flipboard, out Tuesday, is extending the app so it allows users to create and share their own handsome digital magazines with a few clicks and without any design talent required. If you make your magazine public, anyone with Flipboard, which is a free app, can read it and comment on it.

I’ve been testing this new version of Flipboard, which has some other improved features, over the past week or so, on several iPads and an iPhone. My verdict is the new features make a great mobile app even better. There are some limitations to the new capabilities, but they make your mobile device more personal and more of a creative tool, rather than just a means of consumption. For now, the new version is only available for Apple’s devices, but an Android edition is in the works.

The original Flipboard, which is produced by a small, private Silicon Valley company of the same name, was aimed at helping people wade through the welter of information on social networks and the Web, by allowing them to corral posts on popular topics like, say, baking or basketball, into attractive collections. The company says that capability has earned it 50 million registered users and a smaller, but active, core group of millions who use it daily.

I have long used Flipboard to follow tech and political news, or to leaf through everything posted on Twitter or Facebook by particular people or sites. These collections would update as new posts meeting the criteria appeared. If I had a collection about, say, the economy or smartphones, based on tweets on those subjects, it would stay current, showing me automatically any Web pages referenced within those tweets.

With the new personal magazine feature, however, I can make my own Flipboard-hosted publications on particular topics of interest, handpicking the posts or articles I want to include, rather than relying on feeds or algorithms. And it’s easy to do. When you find a post, video or article you want to include in your magazine, you just click a plus button next to it, choose which of your magazines to “flip it” into and it appears in that magazine. The magazine only updates when you decide to update it with a new article, photo or video. The original creators are credited.

Read the rest here.

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