One of the world's most popular news apps just got a whole lot easier to navigate and better at bringing you content you care about.
Flipboard is rolling out a major redesign today for version 4.0 of its popular news aggregation app, and at the center of it is a new feature that promises a more personalized, curated experience for its tens of millions of active users across iOS and Android.
It’s called “Smart Magazines,” and Flipboard is saying it fundamentally reorganizes and streamlines the experience so people can keep up with whatever it is they are passionate about more quickly. Think of Smart Magazines as collections of articles with unique layouts, tailored not just to your favorite categories, but to more specific tastes as well.
Flipboard always allowed users to choose topics and filter them out individually, but the default view was a mishmash of every category, and every user who tuned in to the same topics would receive the same content. Now, the app encourages readers to dig deeper after they’ve selected a basic area of interest.
For example, selecting the “Photography” topic brings up a list of selectable tags, like “Leica” and “Nature Photography,” that provide more granular control over the kind of photography content you’ll see.
As a result, each person’s Flipboard — even if they subscribe to the same general topics — is now guaranteed to be unique. And separating those topics out into individual magazines should make the daily swarm of content much less overwhelming to digest. By default, Flipboard’s home screen will house up to nine smart magazines, which can be navigated by swiping from left to right. More can be created, but they’re stored away in a menu.
For longtime users, the option still exists to subscribe to specific people, news sources, and hashtags, as well as magazines created by other users. Groups can even make their own custom magazines to share stories back and forth.
Rather than just listing new content in a chronologically flowing feed, Flipboard says stories that are liked, added, and shared have a greater chance of surfacing for other readers. What’s more, the app’s algorithms learn from use, and Flipboard reportedly gets better at predicting the content you want to see as you continue to use it.
Many news aggregation services, like Apple News, Google Play Newsstand, and Feedly, operate in a uniform fashion — a general feed of top stories, followed by the highlights of each category, and then an alternate view for topics and sources. Flipboard also features a top stories tab, but places content neatly filtered by topic immediately within reach, and aims to feed users more of what they like based on a deeper understanding of their passions.
In practice, the experience really does resemble that of a curated magazine, rather than a wire of information — that is, if a magazine could show video, and be instantly shared with your friends. The update releases today for iPhones and Android smartphones, with a tablet version to come at a later date.