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BW Businessworld

Flipboard Re-flipped

Photo Credit :

The beautiful news reading magazine app Flipboard couldn't have gotten any better, but it just did. I've always thought Flipboard was all by itself, enough of a reason to buy the  iPad. It's pretty good on Android as well, but best on its original home where it was practically the first app I would recommend to new owners of the tablet.

Everyone's got some reading to do, whether for work, hobbies and interests, or just to keep up with what's happening. Even with the original Flipboard, you could collect your reading material in read-later apps like Instapaper or Pocket. But with the most recent update, you can actually create a magazine in minutes. And this ability is more powerful than it looks because you can create a quick package that looks compelling, to share with others on social networks. Nothing stops you from curating your own content either -- as long as it's searchable, find it and make your magazine.

Touch to Create
All you need to do to create your magazine is curate. Search for topics, look at favourite sources or select stories from your social streams. You can even use a bookmarklet via browsers on a laptop or PC to send stuff to your magazine. In the Flipboard app, you just press the plus button to add a story to your magazine, which you can name and describe.  This lets you put in whatever lines you think will compel your potential readers to look at your magazine. You can promote a selected story to become the top story, with its associated photo becoming the cover. Once you're done, you just tap the arrow to share your magazine. You can also choose to keep magazines private, collecting material for yourself for later reading. If you haven't used Flipboard before, you should know that you can pull in content from practically anywhere including Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram and even Google Reader, which Google has announced it will shut down but feeds from which you can continue to access in Flipboard.

Powerful Sharing
I know every app these days includes sharing to social networks. But when you add that to a whole package of content, which could include videos and podcasts if the content does, so easily created and so attractive looking, it's a powerful capability. If we were to look at a few use cases, consider how easily you could search for news or articles about one of your products and share that to your Facebook page. Or think how easily you could create a small collection of articles on a subject in which you're trying to establish your influence and share that on Twitter or LinkedIn.  If you enable  push notifications, you can see comments on content from those in your networks as and when they happen or read them later from the Activity tab. Either way, it should be a conversation starter if you're looking to engage on topics of similar interest with others. You can even email a Flipboard link via email, and it goes out with an image. You can pick content from anywhere and since credit to the original content producer is right there -- in fact, the links are regular Flipboard additions -- there should be no copyright issues looming up ahead though people will be taken aback to find their content popping up all over the place.

Read it later

Instapaper and Pocket have been two apps that are most popular for later reading. Every app worth its salt allows for a send to Instapaper or Pocket ability. But the fact that you can now save content in a nice format means there's some competition for services like Instapaper.  Flipboard continues to be competition for Zite, another app that works with the "personalised magazine"  concept but focuses on reading rather than curating. Discovering more content on the new Flipboard is also crafted into the app. The search itself supports hashtags and specific keywords and delivers results in magazine style. Within the pages of a magazine, you will also find sub sections and lists of sources or people that you can add to your reading collections. Many Flipboard readers are also featured in their own section  when they post content.

All n all, Flipboard has grown to be a richly featured app on the iPad and iPhone. The new features are yet to make their way to the Android version, but they probably will soon enough.

(mala(dot)bhargava(at)gmail(dot)com)