One of the nice little surprises at Samsung’s Galaxy S III unveiling in London was that the device would be preloaded with the fabled Android version of the Flipboard social magazine app. The news came from out of the blue — while the iOS version has garnered plenty of acclaim and some nifty new updates, Android users were (largely) left out in the cold.
Now it appears that the app will soon be finding its way onto other Android devices, but perhaps not in the way that most users would hope. According to a new report from Engadget, the Flipboard team is close to releasing a beta version of the app to a small number of users to gain critical feedback before launching the final product.
But why the slow and steady approach? Engadget’s sources say it’s because of the sheer number of devices they have to account for. As wonderful has having a device for every niche is, it’s pretty clear that the process of ensuring a consistent experience across multiple hardware configurations can be a real headache. It seems especially difficult when the iOS version of the app has become well known for its handsome design and solid usability — making sure that experience carries over to the hordes of Android devices floating around out there is certainly no trivial feat.
Flipboard is being very smart about how it goes about making those final tweaks. There will always be people willing to go through the extra work of loading up an .apk on their device in order to be the first to have something, and using them as a testbed for a wider release down the line only makes sense. For now though, there’s still no official word on a release date — the Flipboard for Android page only says that the app will launch in “the coming months.”
UPDATE: Flipboard has shed a bit more light on how the beta process will work.
It’s a private beta where people who want to participate can send us their email and we’ll email them a build to test. They do have to configure their phone, but we send along instructions. We won’t be sending out a press release about this since it’s not meant for the general public, but I wanted you to hear it from us.
You will start to see Flipboard on some of the Samsung Galaxy SIII phones as they become available and the beta program will help us get ready for launching more broadly on Android phones this summer.
Those of you who don’t care much for minor imperfections can dive right in though — the .apk was pulled from a Galaxy S III demo unit prior to launch, and you too can join in the fun provided you know where to look.