Hands-On: Flipboard for Android Beta Beats Pulse?
Android fans rejoice! No longer just an iPad and iPhone app, Flipboard finally brings beautiful magazine-style to Android devices. The app’s Android beta version is only for Android phones at this time, but hopefully tablet support will come soon.
Flipboard is a news aggregation reader that collects stories from around the Web, including user’s individual Twitter and Facebook accounts. The app’s biggest competitor on Android is Pulse, but Flipboar’d advantage is its elegant design. It then arranges that content in a magazine-like way, showing images and varied layout styles. The user flips through content by turning pages.
The Android version of Flipboard brings with it all the features that current Flipboard fans know and love, with one addition: Widgets. Users can now add news to their homescreen, choosing between a small and a medium sized widget, and setting an update rate of daily or hourly. The Flipboard widget makes it fast and easy to quickly check the latest headlines, and a quick tap brings you into the full application where the article awaits. Overall, our hands-on time with this app revealed a promising and exciting addition to the Android universe.
Upon launching Flipboard, you can connect to an existing account, which syncs your information over multiple devices, or get started without an account. If you’re brand new to Flipboard, and don’t want to immediately create an account, you can simply select a few interesting topics for the provided list and jump right into the news.
Even without connecting to a Facebook or Twitter account, Flipboard provides a rich, customized news experience. You can browse through one of the categories selected in the previous screen or explore Flipboard Picks, a curated content feed full of interesting news articles and other food for thought.
The real power of Flipboard comes from connecting to social networks. Connecting to your Twitter and Facebook accounts fills your feed with news and articles shared by friends. Rather than just seeing boring headlines, as with most RSS readers or news aggregators, you get pictures, bylines, leads and articles, all formatted for easy mobile reading. We connected to Twitter and browsed through shared articles quickly and easily, seeing which articles were worth reading in a glance.
Flipboard settings give you even more power to customize your news feed. You can connect to your Read Later service of choice—Instapaper, Pocket (formerly Read It Later) and Readability—giving you the ability to save articles for later viewing. Flipboard also gives you the ability to mute authors, effectively blocking unwanted content from your feed. Options such as country settings, widget update frequency, and text size also help customize the experience.
Flipboard is one of the most popular news-reader apps for the iPad and iPhone and we’re excited that Android users can soon take advantage of this app as well. But Pulse comes preloaded on every Kindle Fire, as well as a good deal of other smartphones. So, Flipboard will have an uphill battle. However, the beautiful design and helpful widget might be enough to give Pulse a run for its money. There is no word about tablet support yet, but Android phone users should definitely keep an eye out for the official app release.
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