Google readies social news magazine app

Propeller is reported to be Google's first foray into social-news magazine apps.

Laura Locke
Laura Locke is a senior writer for CNET, covering social media, emerging trends, and start-ups. Prior to joining CNET, she contributed extensively to Time and Time.com for much of the past decade.
Laura Locke
2 min read
Blogger Robert Scoble called Google's news magazine app plan "mind-blowing good."
Blogger Robert Scoble called Google's news magazine app plan "mind-blowing good." Google +

Google is working on a social-news magazine that will be accessible on the iPad and Android devices, according to reports.

"Mind-blowing good," is how digital pundit and blogger Robert Scoble said a source of his described it in a post late on Wednesday on Google+.

Google representatives did not respond to a CNET request for comment. However, AllThingsD confirmed the news from several sources and reported this evening that Propeller is the name of Google's attempt at making a "Flipboard killer."

The news comes at a time when the social-publishing arena is heating up, with Flipboard, the most popular and snazziest-looking social magazine, having launched in mid-2010.

Apple named Flipboard "App of the Year" and Time wrangled it into its annual list of top 50 innovations. To date, the tablet app has seen 550 million monthly "flips" through its content and 3.5 million downloads. Top-tier investors have pumped $60 million into the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company. Funders include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Index Ventures, Insight Venture Partners, and Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz. Competitors include Zite, just scooped up by CNN for an estimated $20 million, and AOL's Editions, which launched in early August.

Social magazines can be personalized according to a reader's interests by pulling in real-time content feeds from sources like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as RSS feeds from a variety of Web sites and publications. And branded advertising is quickly moving into these social-reading apps. Flipboard, for instance, started running paid ads with Conde Nast titles. American Express launched its first campaign in July, while Lexus ads will appear in the October issues of Wired, The New Yorker, and Bon Appetit.