Flipboard – a 2011 game changer

December 28, 2011

in Mobility

Flipboard.jpgI was an occasional user of Flipboard on my iPad, while I liked it I didn’t use it all that often. When the iPhone version launched all that changed. It simply became my number one newsy app. It wasn’t because the news was better (it was much the same), or because it organized it in some radically better way. It was simply more tactile, more suited to the iPhone. Whether one finger or two this app uses touch in ways that other news apps will soon be copying.

Many have written about Flipboard for iPhone. For me there are three areas that it does really well at.

1. Single Finger or Thumb navigation. One handed is easy and natural. As a news junky this is important. So’s the speed of the flip, and the page turn indication. Unwanted page changes are reduced. Flipboard effectively uses “pull down” refresh and enables swipes back to the menu. In other words less buttons, less clicks and more swipes. In my experience – the swipes feel more satisfying. As the app become more tactile (and pages flip) it also feels both faster and more connected to me and my actions.

2. Facebook and Twitter. For me – Flipboard is the main way I see updates via Facebook now. I find the Facebook iPhone mobile app is a mess (no matter how many downloads it gets) when compared to the simplicity of clipboard. I’d like to see data… but the flip rather than the stream seems to help my headline review and doesn’t feel slower.

3. Newsreader for the Masses: I keep introducing others to Flipboard iPhone. I used to mention it re iPad, however, I now proactively ask people (when we are discussing apps or iPhones (and people do you know – naturally) how they like it or later after a few weeks. My anecdotal analysis suggests that those that never read much on their iPhones may now actually be reading more. In other words – this app works on an accessibility level and others are finding it rewarding.

What’s this all mean? Any Conclusions?

Simple. We are going to see many more apps copying the flipboard type of approach. If you make an app or have an app… then you should ask. Can I use more swipe actions to simplify? Can I use page turn techniques in a way that aids scanning and cognition? In so many real life events around reading we are used to leafing through pages. Along comes Flipboard and the metaphor jumps from the Kindle and iBook apps to general news.

Note, Flipboard says they have no white label plans. Still, I wonder if Flipboard could “manage” your content account. For example would you or your company pay to have a Flipboard-like app of your own. It might make a great healthcare app or education app. What might you want to put in a Flipboard wrapper? Could wordpress blogs be offered in a Flipboard wrapper? Note again, you can see your blog now by searching for it… and if it tweets it may well feature in Flipboard. Is there a personal option? As an aggregator of all my content that is more under my curation control? They have already started Flipboard accounts and they have a few of your accounts. Do we have a mobile tumblr in the making?

As content moves to the mobile… and we generate more content through the mobile we need better and better ways to consume it. While we are quickly learning about better ways to share it and iPhone and Android devices are getting better and better at photo’s, videos etc.. there is still a ways to go for making consumption more attractive. Almost all my social media consumption is via my phone; in my view that’s the trend.

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