Flipboard for Android (First Look)

Flipboard for Android is out in beta. How does it compare to apps like Google Currents on that platform. Shane Brady gives you the bottom line.

Flipboard is at last coming to Android. Flipboard made such a splash on the Apple iOS — the iPad, specifically — that this mainstream media reader app made Time Magazine. Now it’s heading to Android. I took a first look.

Flipboard works by turning the media contents from magazines and outlets you follow into, basically, a series of cards you upward or downward swipe to lip through.

Signing up for the beta is easy. When you launch Flipboard, the first screen you see is the Cover Stories view. It shows highlights from various sources that you set up in a clean tile format.

It’s supposed to feel like a magazine, but on a phone, it reminds me of the tiles on the Windows Phone UI. Take a look. Here’s my Cover Stories view.

Flipping up shows the screen where you see feeds I set up.

I’ve selected just a couple feeds for this story: a couple of sites that have relationships with Flipboard and, also, my own Twitter feed. Notice it displays individual tweets.

This is a tweet with an image from a well-known storm chaser.  Flipboard cleans up the information and presents it nicely. Swiping up and down brings you to other tweets.  The next screen shot is a tweet Flipboard uses as a starting point to bring in other information:

In this case, Flipboard fed information from SevereStudios.com in addition to the Tweet itself. Looking at my other sources, Flipboard turns RSS feeds into the following:

This is still a beta, to be fair, but so far so good. I like the way Flipboard takes content and converts it into something that’s clean and easy to navigate.  The up and down swipe motions are natural when using a phone and allow you to successfully use Flipboard with just one hand.

There is a lot of media connected with Flipboard, so there is almost always something for everyone. One app that didn’t seem to work consistently for me on this beta, though, was Instapaper.  Instapaper and Flipboard are complementary products in a lot of ways. I look forward to checking out the integration when the beta is further along.

Another issue I had:  Though up and down is a common gesture, it feels out of place on my Samsung Galaxy Nexus with Android 4.X Ice Cream Sandwich (ics).  The design language in ICS suggests swiping left to right to go back and forth. So, on the iPad version of Flipboard this works. It doesn’t on this Android beta. We’re awaiting comment from the folks at Flipboard on this issue.

The lack of native Android tablet support at this stage of the game is concerning.  The app will work on a tablet, but it doesn’t look great.  Text and icons are too large. And the app itself doesn’t take advantage of the screen real estate.  Flipboard says explicitly that the beta is only for phones, true, but still  I’m disappointed about how it looks on my Asus Transformer Prime.

Flipboard goes head to head with Google Currents on Android.  Google Currents is my favorite magazine app. Flipboard in beta for Android is interesting, but it isn’t better than Google Currents, in this reviewer’s assessment.

Google Currents works on my Transformer Prime, it lets me add any RSS source — not just ones signed up with Google. And I prefer the navigation on Google Currents.

On the plus side, Flipboard is a little snappier than Google Currents. Performance is key and that might be enough to make some power users make the move. Especially if you’re not dedicated to Google Currents, or don’t use Google Currents at all, you’ll want to give Flipboard a try.

Have you tried Flipboard? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you.


  • I liked Google Currents, but it was laggy on my device. And the content took forever to download. Flipboard may be a descent alternative.

    -RAP, II

  • Great post, Shane. I’m still waiting for Flipboard for Android on my HTC One X. In the meantime, Google Currents with 4G connectivity just blazes.

  • If Flipboard could import Google Reader, the Google Currents would be dead in the water. I want to like Currents, but it’s overall lag at importing articles, updating articles, and screen changes keeps it behind Flipboard. When was the last Currents’ update? Flipboard has had at least two that I know of.

  • You can add Google Reader and also any rss feed you want to your Flipboard. To do so, open the content guide by tapping the red ribbon in the top right of the screen.

    You can add rss feeds by searching for them in the search box in the content guide.
    Google Reader can be found under “Accounts” in the content guide, together with the other social accounts Flipboard integrates with.

  • Ok, I have tried this out. NIIIIICE.  Keep in mind that their competition, Pulse, has partnered up with WSJ.  This may make things interesting in the long run. Competition is good for us the users. 

    -RAP, II