Among the many new applications designed for Apple Watch, there are still a few big names who had yet to reveal how their apps will look and operate. One of those names is Flipboard, the social magazine app which is currently available on iOS, Android, Windows, and more recently, the web. The company offered a preview of their forthcoming Apple Watch app, which they’ll cover in more detail later this week via a company blog post.
Given that a number of readers today often turn to Flipboard to consume long-form content – like magazine-length articles – in addition to browsing through photos, social updates and shorter news stories, there was some question about how the service would make the transition to the Apple Watch’s small screen.
Here, it seems, news apps are focused on delivering short bursts of content to readers – and that’s the direction Flipboard is now headed.
The company explains that users will be able to read a “smart summary” of the news story on the Apple Watch, and then if they want to actually dive in and read the full story, they can do so on their iPhone. The app will take advantage of Apple’s “Handoff” feature in order to pass the link from the wearable device to the smartphone, taking you directly to the story you want to read.
As for what stories are appearing on the Flipboard Watch app in the first place, that’s where the service’s curation capabilities come into play. Flipboard will algorithmically choose the top 10 stories based on the top 10 topics a user follows on Flipboard, and then present these on the Watch.
In addition, the Watch app will allow users to add stories they’re shown to their own magazines, or share them with a friend from the Watch itself.
What’s interesting about seeing how companies in the news space are addressing the challenges of Apple Watch’s smaller screen, is that it’s still unclear today how consumers will engage with this new accessory. Some early testers have said that, by wearing the Watch, they’ve taken their phone out of their pocket much less frequently. Others speculate that consumers will become highly engaged with the device, even taking the time to read entire news stories on their wrist, as they’ve done with other smartwatch platforms.
Flipboard, meanwhile, has taken the approach to try to straddle the two worlds of Watch and iPhone by offering small screen summaries with the option to transition to the iPhone for a better reading experience, if you choose to dive into its content further.
That could prove to be a smarter approach than asking readers to scroll down through longer content on the Apple Watch, but it also puts Flipboard in a position of having to compete alongside apps better known for their “breaking news” content, like CNN, for example. Flipboard on mobile has often been about a sort of lean-back reading experience – it began as a tablet magazine, you’ll recall. But the Watch seems like it would favor news of a more urgent nature, and that hasn’t traditionally been Flipboard’s biggest selling point.