Last night, Flipboard released its long-awaited iPhone app. The app is a companion to its popular iPad reader which renders feeds and realtime streams into a magazine-like experience. The iPhone app is already so popular that it took down Flipboard’s service earlier today.
In this episode of Fly or Die, John Biggs and I take the iPhone app through the paces. (You can watch our episode on the original iPad app here from last January). The iPhone app is gorgeous, as you would expect from Flipboard. Biggs thinks it’s more busy than beautiful. It’s certainly not the most efficient way to go through your information streams, but that is not the point.
It strips down the iPad app and presents it on the smaller screen. You flip vertically through your stories, headlines, and Tweets instead of horizontally and there is a promising new feature called Cover Stories that attempts to pull together the best stories from all your feeds.
Cover Stories, I confirmed after the taping, is based on the relevance-matching technology Flipboard acquired with Ellerdale in 2010. (Ellerdale’s founder, Arthur Van Hoff, is now Flipboard’s CTO). It is based on reader interactions with stories in Flipboard—these would include likes, retweets, and stories from sources you tend to read—and there may be some manual curation involved as well. This is one of the first steps Flipboard is taking to try to filter the stream.
If Flipboard’s iPhone-only Cover Stories can bring you the best stories, photos, videos, and tweets in your social streams, it will become as addictive as the iPad app. But if you don’t like big pictures adorning your tweets, like John and maybe two other people, maybe this app isn’t for you.