The internet is today all aflutter over the launch of Flipboard, a social network and news aggregator for the iPad. It’s been heralded by some as the future of publishing, by others as a picture-book for affluent grown-ups (okay, that was me) and it’s pretty cool.
We were quickly seduced by the attractive design and the idea of merging Facebook and Twitter into a magazine format alongside specially selected sites from Boing Boing to Design Sponge via The Onion. It makes reading websites a magazine-like experience, with an equal emphasis on words and images. Plus it means you can basically curate your own magazine with content from the available sources. So far, so nifty.
But after the novelty of such a nice app being free and stuff wore off, we realised some things were rather lacking. You can’t add feeds for any old website you like – so, you wouldn’t be able to read Recombu on there which is clearly a Bad Thing. Likewise, you can only add nine feeds, so you have to be a bit selective about what to read – we also wanted to rearrange our homescreen icons into a more sensible order but that was a no-go.
Having proven massively popular, Flipboard has been a bit slow this morning, and doesn’t seem to be able to sign new users up to Facebook et al until they migrate to better servers. Perhaps this is why things like Twitter weren’t updating very quickly on our Flipboard – but if not, it’s really too slow for Twitter use.
The lack of a Flickr panel also seems to be a glaring omission for such a visual aggregator – although of course we’d expect functionality to expand as time goes by.
Still, it’s beautifully designed and free to download which are two definite bonuses. The app is ad-free for now and goes further towards our ‘Spotify-for-newspapers’ utopian dream than most other apps we’ve seen.