App

Flipboard is an App Store veteran, but is it still relevant after almost seven years?

Price: Free
Version: 4.0.2
Size: 82.8 MB
Developer: Flipboard, Inc.
Platform: iPhone & iPad

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This is the app that started the trend of news aggregation services. It’s a single hub that grabs content from all over the web and cooks it up into a personalized magazine-style offering, and with its latest update it’s made those magazines smarter than ever. The following video sums up nicely what Flipboard is all about.

The app offers a clever alternative to regular magazine-form content. Like the algorithm-driven recommendations of Netflix or Spotify, the app learns what you like and then bundles related topics into themed, bespoke magazines to digest at your leisure. No release dates, no content you don’t like – it’s a constantly updated feed of interesting writing from a huge range of partners and sources.

When you first load up the app, Flipboard asks what kind of things you’re passionate about. You’ll answer by picking from a selection of topics, from sport and politics right through to photography and travel.

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Whether your passion is tech or travel, baking or biking, you’re bound to find something here

Pick one of these broad subjects and you can then drill down to highlight specific tags within that field that appeal or don’t appeal to you. The app uses these choices to select appropriate content for its smart magazines. Beyond that, Flipboard’s developers promise that the app will learn from your reading habits in order to continually improve your reading experience.

It’s interesting to note that this is the app’s first major update since Apple launched its very own News app, and to differentiate itself Flipboard seems to be doubling down on its twin foundations of easy personalization and slick presentation.

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We chose “technology” and could then define exactly what we do and don’t like within that genre

Articles from around the web are chopped up and presented as full-screen pages, which are flipped rather than scrolled – hence Flipboard. It’s not just smart magazines, either – you can manually add favorite content to your own custom mags, either as a sort of home-made “read later” service or to curate your very own magazine to share with friends.

If you link a Twitter account, you can flip through an automated selection of popular tweets from accounts you follow. The way these are presented, with photos and videos at the forefront, is a nicer way to read Twitter than Twitter itself.

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The app curates its own editorial magazines if you’re looking for random inspiration

The app’s redesign looks good, putting the smart magazines front and center, but it does seem a little like its focused on Apple’s larger handsets. Those rocking 4-inch iPhones might find things a bit cramped, and there’s no proper version for the iPad (though it’s still compatible) – though there is one on its way.

There’s a lot going on here, and as a result the app is sometimes a little confusing to navigate. Swipe gestures do different things in various parts of the app, and though each of these choices makes sense once you get used to it, it’s the getting used to it that could take a little while.

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Flipboard’s home carousel, where you can swipe between magazines

While the service is completely free, you’ll often come across full-page adverts while flipping through articles. Not ideal, but they appear less frequently than in real-world mags and are both better looking and easier to dismiss than regular pop-up ads. We feel it’s a fair price to pay for the service.

If you’re already entrenched in Apple News or Feedly, this latest update probably isn’t enough to tear you away. But Flipboard remains a powerhouse in the news aggregation space, and if you don’t currently have a favorite news app, this is a very good place to start.

Review: Flipboard 4 – veteran news reading service gets smart update
Our new favorite way to read the news
For
  • New "smart magazines" are excellent
  • Presents articles in a slick, readable view
  • A flexible and social news hub
Against
  • Navigation is a little confusing at first
  • No love for iPads or small iPhones
4.4Overall Score