The ultimate tablet magazine is ready for your Android. Long an iPad-only offering, Flipboard arrived for Android tablets in December – and I’ve barely put my tablet down since. With the ability to pull in content from thousands of sites, Flipboard can also access your Google Reader, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook accounts, meaning everything you care about on the web is literally at your fingertips.
I feel like I’m writing an ad as I write this, which is generally a bad thing, but my affection for this app is sincere so I’m just going to roll with it. Whatever.
Reading is, to me, the main reason to own a tablet, so I’ve been looking for the best ways to read the web since I got one back in November. I’ve tried Android news apps like Pulse or Feedly and I’ve got to say: I never was impressed. Feedly, technically still in beta, crashed constantly and mostly just worked with Google Reader. Pulse is okay, and supports a wide variety of sites, but for some reason I never really loved it. I stuck to the default Google Reader app.
Until, that is, I found Flipboard. Sure, the page-flipping thing is gimmicky, but there’s a lot more to this app than that. Let me try to explain.
When you start up Flipboard you’re presented with boxes. These boxes can be whatever you want: websites you like to read, sections from your Google Reader or even the Facebook page of an individual friend. Tap a box and you’ll see content, arranged as though you’re reading a magazine. Here’s a site you might know:
Flip through pages to browse articles, or simply tap one to read more. It’s intuitive, and really brings the magazine experience to the tablet. To add a box you need only to click the magnifying glass at top-right:
You can browse for sites you enjoy using the menu, or you can search for sites. Be sure to click the “Accounts” tab, because that’s when things really get interesting:
From here you can add not only your social networking accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and more) but also your Google Reader and YouTube accounts. Put simply, you can combine most of the sites you spend time using online into one beautiful interface.
Even better: using Flipboard to browse these sites is actually better than the Android apps built just for the job. Facebook works way better as a book you can flip through, and I’ve never enjoyed browsing my YouTube subscriptions more than I do in Flipboard. It just works:
Google Reader also works quite well. You can flip through all of your feeds at once, or add front-page boxes of individual feeds or tags to Flipboard’s main screen. Here’s me looking at my tags:
It’s worth noting that you can make custom boxes for most services. Want a box that only shows pictures shared by people you follow on Twitter? You can do that. Want a box just for YouTube videos from your favorite channel? You can do that. Want a box that only shows status updates from that girl you’re stalking? You can do that, but don’t. It’s creepy. Talk to her in person like a grown up.
Personally, the sites I’ve added to Google Reader only print articles I never want to miss, so I always flip through those first. Lucky for me Flipboard marks articles I’ve read as read, so my tablet stays in sync with the web client I use on my desktop.
It’s a minor point, but Flipboard seems to have thought of a lot of minor points like this. Videos you watch on YouTube are appropriately marked as watched on your YouTube account. Author names show up at the bottom of every article, and you can usually even follow them on Twitter from right there. There’s a polish to Flipboard that’s lacking in similar apps, and the more you play with it the more you’ll notice.
There’s also the social integration, if that’s the sort of thing you care about. You can Tweet and like articles to your heart’s content, allowing friends you’ve not really kept in touch with to occasionally verify that you do exist and that there is a certain kind of content you like to share with them. Whatever. I just like having a way to access all the content I love from the many different corners of the web.
Ready to check out Flipboard for Android? Download it now on Google Play.
How do you like Flipboard on your Android? Let me know in the comments below. And don’t be afraid to let me know if there’s a better app for reading the web on Android. I’d love to learn about it.