Is Flipboard the New Place To Find Content?

Earlier this month Flipboard announced a big revamp to their app hoping to help customize and personalize news as well as content content consumption— the “Smart Magazine”.

McCue is on to something, I think we’re all getting a bit tired of the “relentless, nonstructured newsfeed” — ahem Facebook, Twitter.

Excited, I re-downloaded the app. Played around for a week and here’s what I think:

The app is beautiful.

When you click in you can swipe through beautiful images bucketed under each content avenue from News to the passions you’ve selected. You can easily swipe through image cards that are displayed in (almost) full screen with clear headlines and titles. You can flip up and through individual articles curated for you. For the most part, it’s pretty seamless. The only part of the “flipping” I found to be a pain was when reading an actual article, there was no quick and easy way to the next article. You can click a button to go back to the original headline and image, but there is no option to quickly go to the next article.

It’s a little overwhelming.

When you sign in there is a a lot going on. You have cover stories, news, and then curated content based on your self-selected passions. Then you can do a lot, maybe too much? You can take a deeper dive into more specific interests like Slow Cooker Recipes or South American Travel, create your own smart magazines, follow other magazines, follow your passions, find people to follow, add RSS/social feeds, collect stories, contributors, the list goes on. It’s a bit overwhelming. Where do you start?

Smart Magazine feature is really cool.

I guess you can start by swiping right into your “Smart Magazines”. What is that exactly? Mossberg gives a good description…“topics you choose, tailored using highly granular choices of subjects or sources, and automatically updated as relevant new content is published online”.

Creating a smart magazine that curates content from your favorite publisher or twitter feed in real-time is really cool. For example, if you just wanted to create a magazine that curates the latest from the New York Times or tweets from Chrissy Teigan it’s super easy to set up. Or you can create a magazine that pulls in multiple sources i.e. Parenting Mag, Fatherly, sprinkled with some tweets from Scary Mommy for a “Mom Life” magazine.

Another feature I thought was great was the ability to make a magazine and add contributors. You can create a private magazine to share with your colleagues about “All Things Work” and add them via text, email, or social.

Lack of social currency or reward

The “Add Contributors” feature was probably the most powerful social aspect of the app, but it’s manual, private, and invite only. (Unless I’m missing something?) It’s the only place you go can see what content my friends, colleagues, family, who ever it maybe be, are adding/updating content.

If I create a magazine the chances of my friends or people I know seeing it are pretty slim because there’s not much connecting me with people I know. A lot of the magazines I’ve swiped through are curated really well. It’s a little intimidating. We post things on our social platforms to get likes, shares, and comments from a community of people we’ve selected directly or implicitly. Unless your magazines are done really well, you’re an influencer, and have gained a following over time, is there another way to find them? Are they just for you?

All in all. It’s a great app, but I’m not sure I would log-in daily.. I think they’re missing a bit of the vanity aspect [humming Carly Simon…] and a social component that draws you back to some of the apps you open everyday.