Flipboard 4.0 launched today, introducing a redesigned app that revolves around one core new feature: Smart Magazines. The magazine analogy isn’t altogether different from Flipboard’s previous interface, where certain topics or news sources made up a grouping of stories through which users could flip. The main difference here is found in the deeper level of personalization available with Smart Magazines.
Posts tagged with "flipboard"
Charles Ying, developer at Flipboard:
When you read Flipboard, articles and photographs are laid out in a series of pages you can flip through, just like in a print magazine. Each magazine page layout feels hand-crafted and beautiful — as if editors and designers created it just for you.
We automate the whole process of layout design and editing by slotting your content into custom-designed page layouts — like fitting puzzle pieces together. We start with a set of page layouts created by human designers. Then our layout engine figures out how to best fit your content into these layouts, considering things like page density, pacing, rhythm, image crop and scale. In many ways, that is the key to Flipboard’s signature look and feel: at its heart are the work of real designers.
I’ve always appreciated the way Flipboard presents web articles into magazine-like layouts that, however, also feel “smarter” than print in how they treat images and text flow. It turns out, Flipboard built an entire engine that is capable of combining layout designs with algorithms to determine the best way to display articles depending on multiple variables and filters. Great read.
Zite, the personalized magazine that categorizes news based on popularity and reader interest, has been acquired by Flipboard, the social magazine that defined the genre back in 2010. According to TechCrunch, Flipboard acquired the company from CNN (which bought Zite in 2011 for $20 million) for a deal valued at $60 million and that includes CNN content (feeds and special magazines) coming to Flipboard in the future.
Flipboard and Zite has always shared some similarities: both companies started as iPad apps, and they both enabled readers to discover interesting articles by intelligently scanning sources from Twitter, Facebook, and other social services. Unlike Flipboard, however, which has been focusing on its editorial and user-created magazine efforts in the past couple of years, Zite has continued to prioritize automatic, algorithm-based discovery of content: Zite had a mechanism that allowed users to vote for the quality of articles offered by the app, as well as a propretary engine to analyze web trends, topics, and user interests to further filter articles.
In a blog post, Zite co-founder and CTO Mike Klaas has confirmed that the Zite app will be discontinued, although tools to migrate accounts and user data to Flipboard will be offered to existing Zite users. In a separate post on LinkedIn, Zite CEO Mark Johnson announced that, unlike the rest of the Zite team, he won’t be joining Flipboard, and that the combination of the two companies will be an “epic force”.
Behind the deal, what’s interesting is the kind of technology that Zite will bring to Flipboard. Besides the obvious social aspect that enabled Zite to look at links shared by a user on Twitter and other services, Zite had built algorithms to calculate the credibility of a user, match names and places in articles, characterize writing style and parts of speech with semantic classifiers, collect article metadata, and analyze context with text mining techniques to better summarize content. And these were just a part of the system Zite had in place: as the company detailed two years ago, Zite could collect and match user interests over time, aggregate reading habits and interests of a community of users, and find relationships between similar articles and related topics.
The interest graph and artificial intelligence that Zite created has high potential for Flipboard, which has long allowed users to browse Cover Stories, a feature that shows popular articles (based on the Ellerdale tech that Flipboard acquired in 2010), but that isn’t as powerful as Zite for discovering new, interesting stories.
Flipboard, launched in July 2010 three months after the debut of the original iPad, has now over 100 million users, and recently started rolling out an update to their Cover Stories layout to organize articles by source, social network and topic.
Straight from the Inside Flipboard blog:
Who doesn’t love GIFs? Flipboard readers have already incorporated them into lively magazines like “Just GIF It,” “GIF Pop” and “GIF Me a Break.” Already on Android, GIF support comes to Flipboard for iPad and iPhone—so now anyone can collect and share their favorites in a magazine. (To celebrate, we’ve got some GIF-centric magazines we love featured today in By Our Readers. Tap on the red ribbon to find them in the Content Guide.)
In Flipboard 2.0.5 (App Store link), you’ll also get access to the latest Top Stories in Tech, News, Business, and Sports. Flipboard is also emphasizing the social aspects of their app by making it easier to find curators and prompting you to share your magazine with others once you’ve saved ten articles.
I don’t like it when third-party apps or services force me to share links to articles or webpages using their own custom shortened links. I understand the appeal of personalized short domains – after all, we tweet mcstr.net links with the @macstoriesnet account – as they can provide analytics to track clicks, can save characters, and, at least in theory, they “look cool”. However, I’ve been long considering the idea of dropping our mcstr.net links, but I think the issue is worse (and more annoying) for apps and services that don’t tweet links to their own content (like we do) but that override others’ links with different domains. An example is Pocket, which gives you the clean, original URL when you choose the “Copy Link” action from the sharing menu, but that instead returns pocket.co links when sending text to Drafts (which I do often). I’ve grown tired of this practice (in Pocket and other services), and I’ve put together a workflow based on a Python script that allows me to easily resolve short links without having to open the browser and tap on multiple menus.
I’m a big fan of Flipboard’s magazine feature, which was introduced earlier this year with version 2.0 of the app. By leveraging Flipboard’s existing presentation style – capable of re-formatting web articles, videos, and photos with a beautiful print-like layout – magazines allow anyone to put together a collection of interesting links that others can subscribe to, read, and share. I am subscribed to dozens of Flipboard magazines and I send links to my Games one on a daily basis.
Most of my automation tips stem from minor annoyances with default solutions, so yesterday I decided to create a simple, yet effective Drafts URL action to easily open Flipboard’s share interface without having to read a webpage in the browser.
Having just shipped a web editor for managing magazines, Flipboard released a small update this morning that focuses on bringing forward basic readership activity and the magazines your friends are curating, as well as adding more options for sharing articles with a new share menu.
Flipboard is continuing to flesh out features related to magazines by first revisiting profiles. Profiles have been updated to display some basic information such as the number of magazines you’re sharing and the number of readers that are currently subscribed to the content that you’re curating. You can’t delve into any kind of trend data at the moment (as you can with Pocket for Publishers for example) — all Flipboard is providing are simple stats that don’t divulge specifics.
Magazines, being a focal point since Flipboard hit verison 2.0, are now included in an additional Friends category as you open the Content Guide. Instead of searching for topics or things you like, you can browse the magazines your friends are publicly curating and subscribe to them. Friends, for example, can be pulled in from Twitter if you’ve added your Twitter account for browsing Tweets and links.
The share menu has been vastly improved, and I’m very happy with what’s been done to make sharing links easier than ever. Flipboard now plugs into a variety of social networks, letting you tap icons for Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ in addition to email and sharing via SMS. There’s also new options for copying links to the articles and saving photographs to the Camera Roll.
While Google Reader is being shut down on June 1st, Flipboard is continuing to improve upon integration with the RSS service by making it easier to navigate folders.
Flipboard is available as a free download from the App Store.
Alongside an Android update that brings it up to par with the iOS version, Flipboard has made available a web editor for managing your collection of curated magazines in Flipboard. The new site, launched at editor.flipboard.com, lets you change your profile information (such as your bio and name), create magazines, edit details of existing magazines, and delete them. You can also change the cover photo for your magazines if you like and open articles for saved content, but it’s not really designed as an online web browser as much as it’s designed to quickly rearrange articles or delete ones you’re simply no longer interested in. Providing just the basics, Flipboard also reminds you to download their mobile app if you try to browse someone else’s magazine — the editor is just a convenient interface for seeing what you have in your collection and nothing more. With the addition of the editor, what I’d like to see next is an extension for web browsers, letting me save links to my magazine of choice as I’m surfing the web so I can share content with friends and family from anywhere.
Mike Walsh reports at MediaPost (via The Next Web) about Flipboard’s latest section: Apple’s iBookstore. In an update to the in-app catalog released today, Flipboard is now featuring a “Books” category that embeds previews of books from Apple’s store, available for purchase upon clicking a “Buy” button in Flipboard.
The new section – spanning 25 categories including literature, travel guides, biographies and cookbooks – lets users flip through catalog-like pages of books, with brief descriptions and cover art images. Each title has a link to the book’s page on the iBookstore to streamline purchases from the Flipboard app on the iPhone, iPad, iPad mini and iPod touch. The new books section is available in 10 countries at launch: The U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, and Spain.
There are some points to be made about this interesting Flipboard initiative. Firstly, as we seen earlier this year with the Levis partnership, Flipboard has turned into a magazine of all-things Internet-related, rather than a prettier interface for blog posts and status updates. Flipboard supports articles, videos, audio podcasts, photography, social networks, and, now, Books. On the other hand, the launch of the Books section is reminiscent of an old rumor which claimed Flipboard was thinking about TV shows and movies; perhaps Flipboard was indeed considering that kind of media from iTunes, but went with Books first.
Books categories and descriptions have been redesigned for Flipboard: iTunes pages are stripped out of unnecessary clutter and they’re presented as elegant previews in Flipboard. The interesting detail is how Flipboard is requiring users to buy books: rather than using the new SKStoreProductViewController class of the StoreKit API in iOS 6, upon tapping the “Download on the iBookstore” button Flipboard will open a web view and ask the user to launch iTunes. It works, but it isn’t exactly the best purchasing experience when apps like Mail have showed it is possible to show a modal iTunes window to buy media without leaving the app, yanking out the user into iTunes.
Why doesn’t Flipboard follow Mail’s example and use an in-app iTunes window to let users buy books without leaving the app? I believe the reason lies in affiliate links: apparently, SKStoreProductViewController doesn’t work with affiliate links for now, and Flipboard is, according to The Next Web and MediaPost, using these links to generate a 5% commission off every sale made from Flipboard links. It is, essentially, a way to monetize the new section without asking the user for anything in return (we use affiliate links here at MacStories as well).
In trying the new section, I’m impressed by how iTunes content has been reformatted to fit Flipboard’s style; I’d only suggest to remove links to books made with iBooks Author from the iPhone version, as iTunes will report an error when trying to open them from an iPhone.
The new Books section doesn’t require an app update and is available on Flipboard now.