Launched on the iPad in 2010, Flipboard quickly became the dominant magazine-style new aggregator, spreading to Android and iPhone before consuming its smaller competitor Zite early last year. And now, having triumphed on mobile, Flipboard decided to enter an arena where we've been patiently waiting for the past 5 years:
The open, and untamed, web.
Flipboard launched a new version of its news app on Tuesday. Set free of its safe and confining mobile app boundaries, the new Flipboard runs in your web browser and much to my surprise looks better than the iPad app:
The new browser version of Flipboard looks somewhat like the version open on my iPad, but the resemblance is faint.
Don't take this the wrong way, but the browser version makes the iPad app look dated.
The browser version has a clean scrolling interface, while the iPad app is still stuck in 2010 (when pagination was hot stuff). Surprisingly, the web browser has better typography and a better layout flow. Where the iPad app offers you an image, title, and blurb for each article, the browser version just shows the lead image and title in a Masonry-style layout. The latter is simply prettier.
And best of all, Flipboard for the web just shows you the title and lead image; click a link and it will take you to the source website rather than show you a cleaned and reposted version of the article.
As a publisher, that is a feature I appreciate. And as a user who likes to graze on websites' related post lists, I also like it.
All in all, the new Flipboard isn't just an expansion into a new venue; it's a graduation into a new level of sophistication. Let's hope they go back and upgrade the iPad app so it works just as well.