Flipboard for iOS review: Flipboard beautifies your news feeds
An new update to the Flipboard app lets you find topics more easily and includes a Daily Digest of top headlines from every news category for quick browsing.
Editors' note: This review has been updated with more information from the latest version released October 29.
Flipboard (iOS|Android) is a neat visual newsreader and social network hub that lets you organize the info you want to look at, then flip through it like you would a magazine. The app lets you create custom magazines from the sources you like most so you can browse through your favorite topics, share your magazine with others, or find magazines about topics you're interested in created by other users.
In the latest update, Flipboard makes finding new topics much easier by browsing or via search, and includes a Daily Edition of curated content so you can get the most important headlines quickly.
Flipboard has remained one of top newsreaders on mobile since it first released in 2012 because it does a great job of using the touchscreen to its advantage. With only gestures and swipes, you can flip through the "pages" of topics you like the most, and the ability to connect to social networks means stories from your friends on Facebook, Twitter and several other networks get peppered in among more conventional news stories.
Get started by creating an account with Flipboard, then (optionally) sign in to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. You also have the option to connect with your LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram, Google+, YouTube and several other accounts if you want to pull in content from any of these networks.
Once you're all signed in, Flipboard presents you with a bunch of topics and you can pick the ones you're most interested in. You can pick general topics such as tech and sports or get more specific by choosing iPhone or Basketball, as examples. Once you're finished, Flipboard displays the first story and you can tap to read it or swipe upwards to move on to the next story.
Across the bottom of the app are the main buttons for navigation. The home button brings you to the first story of all the categories you picked in the beginning. But touching the second button gives you panels of all the categories you picked. Here, you have buttons across the top to look at all categories, people you follow (more on this later), more topics you can add, and a button for connecting more social accounts.
Touching a panel lets you browse through any of the default categories. But touching and holding a panel lets you delete or move it wherever you want. There's an enormous amount of content to choose from, making it possible to customize Flipboard with only the types of stories you want.
The Daily Edition
New to the latest version of Flipboard, the Daily Edition is a curated collection of news that comes each morning at 7:00 a.m. local time. Each page has the top two or three headlines in the category, and you can tap on a headline to read more. Swiping upward is little different in the Daily Edition because you're not moving story by story, but topic by topic. So you start with the top headlines, then a swipe up takes you to the day's Cover Story, then further swipes bring you to a Business Digest, Tech Report, Sports Roundup and more so you can browse through headlines sort of like a newspaper.
It's a really cool addition to the Flipboard app because it gives you the ability to jump in on your commute and get the latest headlines from the topics you care about.
Flipping through social networks
One of the best things about Flipboard is how it handles social networks. Looking at your Facebook account on Flipboard, for example, brings up all your latest news stories in a magazine-style format and automatically displays images from links your friends posted. Similarly, when you touch Twitter, you'll get each tweet laid out in magazine format, but also with linked stories similarly laid out so you can read some of the article (more than on Twitter) before touching to see the whole story. In this way, Flipboard might even be a better way to look at Twitter than Twitter itself.
Even if you know you're not going to be online later (say, if you're going on a trip via airplane), any of the stories you find can be saved to Instapaper, Pocket, or Readability so you have the articles available offline.
Creating a personalized magazine
Flipboard lets you create a magazine of your favorite content, give it a title, then gives you the option to share it with the public or keep it for private use only. A button with a plus sign appears next to every story you come across; it's for selecting and saving content to your personal magazine. Touching the button brings up a smaller window where you can create your magazine. Just add a title, enter an optional description, and select a category. A switch at the bottom lets you either share your magazine publicly or keep it private.
Now, next time you see a story that fits your magazine's theme, just hit the plus button and select your magazine to quickly add the story. What results when you read your magazine is a great-looking cover page with your featured story. Then when you swipe upward you can read on through the magazine.
Once you've made a magazine public, other users can find it in searches and can then follow you (and you can follow others in the same way). Once you've followed a few people, you can look at the panel view and select People to see what the latest stories are from your favorite users.
Better for casual news browsing
Flipboard is a great news reading experience, but I think it's more geared towards sitting on the couch and casually browsing the headlines. Those who are used to RSS newsreaders like Feedly may not like the magazine-style format because they want to just quickly look at headlines and move on. For this, Flipboard is not as efficient, so be aware it's not an RSS replacement.
Flipboard offers an excellent layout for browsing the latest news feeds and popular social sites that's perfect for both the iPhone and iPad. The personalized magazine features provide more customization and interactivity with social networks and other users.
With tons of customization options and a unique magazine-style interface, anyone looking for a better way to browse the latest news and posts on social networks should definitely download this app immediately.