By: Hillel Fuld
I don’t remember the last time a mobile app of any kind got this much hype. In fact, I don’t think I can recall any software of any kind ever getting this much hype. Yesterday, Scoble posted one of his famous interview videos of an app developer who was releasing a new iPad app called Flipboard. Simultaneously, the Wall Street Journal published an article and review of the app that they had been trying out for some time. It wasn’t long before Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, TheNextWeb, and the rest of the blogging crowd followed with their reviews. All the exposure throughout the blogesphere had one thing in common, it was all overwhelmingly positive.
I asked Scoble how the heck the developers of Flipboard got so much support from the blogging community and he answered me in four simple words “It’s an awesome product”. I told him that while I agree, you do not get such coverage without pulling some strings. Putting that aside, I happen to agree with Scoble, along with everyone else who wrote that this app is going to change everything.
Some people went as far as to say that Flipboard is going to drive millions of iPad sales. I am not sure about that, but I will tell you one thing. The apps on my iPad are organized in a certain hierarchy (yes, I am that geeky). Each home screen is organized alphabetically and the apps I use most are on the first home screens, while the apps I rarely use are closer to the back. Then there is the static bar along the bottom with six icons. Those icons appear on the screen no matter which home screen I am looking at, so naturally the apps I use most will be on the bar.
The bar on my iPad now has the Mail app, Safari, Settings, Twittelator, Angry Birds HD, and you guessed it, Flipboard. Until yesterday, Pulse, the beautifully designed RSS reader took that last spot, but as soon as I tried Flipboard, it was clear that it was time to replace Pulse.
So what is Flipboard? The truth is, the video below does a better job explaining the app than I could, but I will go into a little more detail. Flipboard is being called by almost everyone, the first social magazine for the iPad. With the growing trend of social media, the average user consumes a ridiculous amount of information throughout the day. Just take a look at the amount of links I post on Twitter in one day.
I know I am an extreme case and a heavy Twitter addict, but the fact of the matter is, just yesterday Zuckerberg announced they have reached the ridiculous milestone of 500 million active users. Do you realize how insane that number is? So, we are consuming more data than ever before. Truth be told, I have encountered countless startups that try to solve the problem of all the noise we have in our various social streams, but none of them do it as well or as beautifully as Flipboard.
So to sum up Flipboard in one or two sentences, it is an extremely well designed app that enables you to add boxes on the home page, which can contain RSS feeds or different feeds from your various social networks. For me, as a person who follows over 10,000 people on Twitter, Flipboard’s main advantage over other apps is the ability to add a Twitter list as a box and see the different tweets in an extremely visual manner.
Each tweet that contains a link for example, will appear not as a tweet, but the link is already open with all its pictures and text displayed in a magazine format. Same goes for Facebook and your Twitter timeline itself. The app could not possibly be more user friendly, and it is yet another perfect example of how less is more. There are barely any settings to be defined, almost no customization options, and no figuring out the app, hence no need for a tutorial.
Whether or not you are a fan of the iPad, a two minute tour of Flipboard will most definitely blow you away. The app itself when launched, opens to a nice slide show from the different pictures pulled from your various streams. You then flip the page like you would a magazine and you have nice boxes. Let me just say off the bat, that they will need to add more boxes, possibly in the form of another screen or just get rid of the side bar that seems to be a whole lot of wasted real estate. There is an Edit button on the side that enables you to easily replace, add, or remove one of the boxes. You can use one of the recommended feeds, a specific Twitter account, or a Twitter list. You can also just search the name of a website and add that as a box.
To be honest, I tried to add TheNextWeb’s Twitter account as a box, but the app kept giving me an error. After speaking to one of TheNextWeb authors about the issue, he said he was experiencing the same issue. The truth is, while everyone on Twitter was overly excited about Flipboard, they were also complaining about the overload errors they were seeing. I guess that is to be expected when an app gets so much support from all the blogging elite the way Flipboard did.
Putting the slight buginess aside, this app is going to absolutely change everything in terms of the way I use my iPad. A friend on Twitter was debating with Kara Swisher of AllThingsDigital whether Flipboard is a “revolution”. Me? I think that word is way overused about mobile phones and apps, and it does not really matter what you call it, but I think everyone agrees this app provides an overall amazing user experience. To top it all off, the app is free on the App Store, which is ironic since I would have happily paid good money for an app like this.
There was talk about the lack of an iPhone Flipboard app, and while I would bet that such as app is in the works, I am sure the experience on a 3.5 inch screen won’t be the same as on the iPad’s screen, but will have the advantage of the iPhone’s Retina display.
To summarize, I am pretty sure this app will be on the Top List of the App Store within a day or two, and I would put money on the fact that it will be there for some time. With its Facebook, Twitter, and RSS integration, one might go as far as to say, it is really an all in one app for consuming data that truly interests you.
Have you tried Flipboard? Do you share my enthusiasm? Please let me know in the comments.