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Flipboard on a Tablet Is a Sight for Sore Eyes

By Patrick Nelson LinuxInsider ECT News Network
Dec 21, 2012 5:00 AM PT

Flipboard on a Tablet Is a Sight for Sore Eyes

Flipboard: Your News Magazine, an app from Flipboard, is available for free at Google Play. clipboard

With its brand-new, tablet-friendly version, Flipboard takes online news reading to a sybaritic new level -- the bigger screen, along with Flipboard's elegance, surpasses poky smartphone screen real estate, and anything that has come before.

Flipboard pulls together social media, news, and website feeds into one aggregation. If you're used to RSS feeds, where multiple sources are compiled into one readable interface, you'll understand the concept.

Where free app Flipboard excels is that it takes the whole RSS feed concept one step further in terms of look, features and content.

Tweet Collector

First up, Flipboard gathers your Twitter news feed and integrates it seamlessly into the app.

In addition to this neat trick, each tweet also includes one or two paragraphs of the linking article, where necessary. This is in the case of tweets greater than the usual 140 characters.

For example, when a news source like a newspaper publishes a story to Twitter, the text is restricted to 140 characters -- the maximum tweet length permissible. The remainder of the text then has to be provided in a link, similar to the way an RSS feed commonly provides only a teaser, with a click through to the body.

However, Flipboard cleverly chops the screen into two sections: one section containing the 140 character maximum tweet; and the second section containing a few paragraphs of the text body derived from the tweet's embedded link to the rest of the article, usually on the property's website. This is a clever and unbelievably simple solution to a longstanding readability issue.

News Sources

Flipboard integrates with established news sources like USA Today, The New York Times, as well as other news aggregators, such as RSS readers like Google Reader, essentially pouring your Google Reader or other feed into Flipboard.

However, as with any other RSS reader, Flipboard doesn't pre-fetch the full XML's body text -- just headers and whatever text snippet the publisher want to share to entice you.

Unlike with Flipboard's Twitter feed, RSS body is delivered with a tedious further click.

Read Later

Read later services like Pocket are also included. Cross-platform Pocket and others let you browse Web-based pages and articles on a PC, for example, and tag them for reading later.

You can then retrieve the pages cross-device, including within Flipboard itself.

Flipboard content can also be tagged in this way.

Social Networks

Besides Twitter, social networks and blogs like Facebook and 10 others can be fed through Flipboard.

The list includes Instagram and LinkedIn. Search functionality also exists cross-social network, and hashtags are searchable.

Pictures and Video

Flipboard aggregates picture collections like Fotopedia, and a "staff picks" section allows customized picture compilation -- say "the year in photos," or sports shots and so on. Worth a gander.

I discovered Flipboard pick Patternity, a collection of images of patterns found around the world and in the wild. That -- along with a unique flip-style way of scrolling and viewing my subscribed You Tube videos -- kept me occupied.

Creating an optional account allows for synchronization of chosen content sources across devices, say phone and tablet -- although strangely, there's no PC version.

Look and Feel

Flipboard is aesthetically pleasing.

The personal magazine style is comparable in shiny good looks to mosaic news-wall pagemaker Pulse News; Google's own elegant magazine-style Currents app; and tablet-friendly and Google Reader-only magazine-style Feedly, all of which also aggregate news feeds.

In Conclusion

The sleek look and feel of Flipboard stands out even more in the newly released tablet version. Lack of a tablet version had been a glaring omission. In many cases, the phone version didn't install on tablets, and when it did, it formatted text incorrectly.

Couple a 10-inch screen with animation that replicates a tactile page flip and pre-fetched, well curated content -- and Flipboard, you've got something here.

Patrick Nelson has been a professional writer since 1992. He was editor and publisher of the music industry trade publication Producer Report and has written for a number of technology blogs. Nelson studied design at Hornsey Art School and wrote the cult-classic novel Sprawlism. His introduction to technology was as a nomadic talent scout in the eighties, where regular scrabbling around under hotel room beds was necessary to connect modems with alligator clips to hotel telephone wiring to get a fax out. He tasted down and dirty technology, and never looked back.

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