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Flipboard: app of the day
What is it?
Flipboard styles itself as a 'social magazine' - an app that can pull in tweets, Facebook updates and Instagram pics along with articles from websites, and wrap them all up into a stylish digital magazine.
The way it's been redesigned for smartphones to be more of a quick news fix rather than the more relaxed browse-fest of the original tablet version.
Flipboard? It's not exactly new, is it? The social magazine app was originally released back in July 2010 for Apple's iPad, after all.
What's newer is its completely redesigned version for iPhone, which came out in December 2011. And what's newest is the port of that version to Android, which just happened this week.
Consider this a review of the smartphone version of Flipboard, then, which is a very different beast to its tablet parent. Where that was designed for loafing about on a sofa in the evenings browsing news, this is more of a flip-flip-flip fast news fix to be dipped into throughout the day.
First things first, though: getting the best out of Flipboard involves telling it what you like. You start by picking topics you're interested in from a list including news, technology, sports and business. Then you can sign in to Facebook and/or Twitter to bring in more stories that your friends have been linking to.
In fact, you can link accounts like Google+, Google Reader (for RSS feeds), LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Tumblr, SoundCloud and Instagram, while also adding streams of articles from a host of categorised websites from around the world. In 5-10 minutes, you're ready to go.
On smartphones, Flipboard keeps things clean and simple: one article per page, which you flip between using vertical swipes. If a story takes your fancy, you can tap on its headline to visit the full piece via an in-app browser. There are options to share stories or post comments via Twitter, too.
It looks really stylish, but more importantly it's fast: perfect for flipping through a bunch of headlines when waiting for a meeting, standing up on a crowded train, sitting on the loo or whatever.
(Yes, sitting on the loo reading your iPhone. Don't pretend it's an alien concept.)
What's impressive is the way Flipboard has reimagined its app to work not just on smaller smartphone screens, but with different smartphone usage habits. As such, it's the perfect foil for the tablet version.
Well, it is on iOS. The Android edition is smartphone-only outside the US, where it's also available on the Kindle Fire and Nook tablets. Even so, that smaller-screened version is a joy to use.