Flipboard may have been the original iPad magazine, but now, 70 percent of the company’s readers are flipping through its smartphone app. Between that and the recent acquisition of former competitor, Zite, it was clearly time for Flipboard version 3.0.
Flipboard is the archetype for digital media consumption, packaging stories from thousands of different sources into a personalized magazine you flip through with a finger. The app has expanded from an iPad-only offering to one available on Android and Windows Phone smartphones and tablets. It’s also changed from a passive consumption experience to one that lets you curate your own personal collections. Today’s update makes the smartphone app more navigation friendly, adding a daily digest, and opening straight into the content you’re interested in reading.
Previously, the app opened with a tiled interface of your Cover Stories and broad categories of interest, with other app functionalities like search, discovery, and account settings hidden inside a button in the upper right of the screen. Now, on iOS, the app home screen features the familiar five buttons across the bottom of the screen we see in apps like Instagram and the App Store. On Android, these buttons are positioned at the top of the screen. This change makes it easier to navigate to your personal feed, a topic picker of subjects to explore, search, notifications, and your profile. And by ditching the tiled interface of the old smartphone version, you’re one click closer to reading a story upon opening the app.
As for content, Flipboard previously relied on a mix of pieces shared on your social media channels and items curated by Flipboard staff. Now, the app adds Zite’s machine learning and topic extraction engine so readers can explore new content based on more niche subject areas. Rather than a high-level topic like cycling, for example, you can get updated articles on narrower topics like road racing or cyclocross. The content in these topics is fueled by a blend of algorithmic and human curation.
Flipboard’s smartphone experience also includes a new element called the Daily Edition, a once a day curated news summary of the day’s biggest headlines that arrives at 7am local time each morning. Flipboard’s certainly not the first to do this (Yahoo has a good-looking option called Yahoo News Digest), but it makes the app a more complete singular source for both important news you should read about, and the stuff you actually want to read about.
Flipboard will also begin suggesting magazines, topics, and people to follow based on your reading and discovery habits. As the app’s changes thus far have been both tasteful and useful in my opinion, I’m not worried that this suggestion feature will get too annoying or invasive.
While Flipboard is available internationally, these topic-based updates to its iOS and Android apps are first rolling out for English speakers in the U.S. and Canada. The Daily Edition will be available in six regions including the UK, Brazil, India, and Latin America.