Livestand takes on Flipboard: Our hands-on analysis

flipboard vs livestandYesterday Yahoo introduced its Flipboard competitor Livestand. The news aggregation app dutifully pulls content from a variety of sources to offer a magazine-type experience on your iPad. But how does it actually measure up?

Sign-up and sign-in

On Livestand, you’ll immediately see designated spots for new users. Here you can choose to sign-in with either your Yahoo or Facebook account, or forgo that step entirely.

livestand loginRight off the bat, we have to give kudos to Livestand for automatically providing an option for multiple Livestand accounts from the get-go. Flipboard doesn’t provide this option as instantaneously. You can pull up the settings to link your various social networking accounts (something Yahoo doesn’t really address, although we’ll get to that later) but you don’t have an option for multiple stand-alone accounts. So props to Yahoo for making Livestand so multi-user friendly, especially considering tablets are quickly becoming a family or office-oriented product.

However the lack of personal information it allows you to pull is extremely lacking. It grabs your name, gender (if provided), and image from your Facebook or Yahoo account—and that’s about it. Flipboard, on the other hand, lets you link a variety of Websites and uses them to personalize your page.

From there, Livestand directs you toward content. You can either explore the featured news or the entire collection. Bookmarking and adding to your personal mix is easy, although not as quick as you might like (we watched that spinning wheel more than we wanted to).

Content collections

flipboard social contentHere’s where Livestand and Flipboard truly divide: Livestand is not a social product. Livestand is a new way to package your news and online reading; it’s a well-designed, eye-catching way to offer apps within an app to more collectively access this material. But it is absolutely not a social news curator.

There is no option for viewing your Twitter or Facebook feeds as news stories, something that Flipboard has done so well and a major reason why it’s become the magazine app to contend with. This omission by Livestand is a bit bewildering.

And while there are plenty of sites to pull from and we didn’t necessarily feel limited, there isn’t the seemingly-infinite library that Flipboard provides. There is not an option for searching and selecting your own sources, and you’re pigeon-holed within whatever publications Yahoo has partnered with.

User interface and design 

Part of Flipboard’s allure is that it somehow finds this ideal middle ground between old-school, tangible magazines and newspapers and touchscreen technology. The actual method of flipping through your selected content is a nice, comfortable translation from paper to screen.

That’s not to say that Livestand’s more blocky UI is bad—we just happen to better appreciate Flipboard’s design choice.

livestand homeThere is also some minor confusion within Livestand’s setup. You’re first greeted by two blocks on top of one another: One will be your dedicated library and the other displays Livestand’s featured content. What isn’t exactly explained is that in order to add to your library, you need to pull up “explore all content.”

Within the “personal mix” tab is your curated content, which you can view by subject or everything culminated together. Unfortunately, the design leaves something to be desired (see the image below). The rest of Livestand (the featured publications and other standalone news apps included in the catalog) are quite stunning: Big, interactive images, sleek formatting, and attention to details like typeface and integrated Twitter feeds. But within your actual, self-created zine is nothing more than plainly formatted text. It isn’t enticing to look at or particularly attention-grabbing. Add to all this that Livestand can’t be viewed in portrait mode: You’re stuck in landscape. 

livestand personal mixWhich is just another reason why Flipboard still trumps its competition (although we’ve seen good things from reader apps like Zite and Pulse). The bits and pieces that Livestand gets right are commendable, but the big picture lacks Flipboard’s commitment to a truly, thoroughly personalized reader app.  

Product Review

It's not a spy, but you still won't want to friend Facebook's Portal+

Facebook has jumped into the smart home game with the Portal+, a video-calling device featuring an Amazon Alexa speaker and a screen. While it has lots of cool calling features, we’re weary of Facebook taking up counter space in our home.
Home Theater

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

Google's Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port, allowing you to stream content from your tablet, laptop, or smartphone directly to your TV. Here's what you need to know about all iterations, including the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.
Music

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.
Mobile

The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, with each suited for a different occasion.
Deals

Save up to $850 with the best smartphone deals for November 2018

Need a better phone but don't want to spend a fortune? It's never a bad time to score a new smartphone and save some cash. We rounded up the best smartphone deals available that can save you as much as $850.
Mobile

Apple applies for a patent on a wrap-around iPhone display

Previously, Apple was awarded a patent for a foldable phone, and the company has been rumored to be working on one. But it's not at all similar to other concepts. Here's everything we know about a folding iPhone.
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 display could be bigger than the iPhone XS Max screen

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 was only released a few months ago, but Samsung is already working on a follow-up. Not much is known about the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 just yet, but we do have a few details.
Mobile

How does fast charging work? Here’s every single standard compared

Modern smartphones can charge in mere minutes instead of hours. How does fast charging work? Here's a guide to the most popular standards, including Qualcomm Quick Charge, Apple fast charging, OnePlus Dash Charge, and more.
Deals

The Best Black Friday Deals from Best Buy in 2018

We've been hard at work assembling all the best Black Friday deals Best Buy offers in 2018 and putting them in one place to save you time and money this holiday season. From laptops to TVs, game consoles to smart speakers and much more…
Mobile

Keep your phone organized with one of the best file managers for Android

Your smartphone has a limited amount of storage space and all sorts of files tend to accumulate if you let them. To keep things in order and find what you need, you should snag one of the best file managers for Android.
Mobile

Upcoming Honor View 20 may forgo the notch for new display technology

Nearly a year after Honor released the spectacular Honor View 10, the Chinese smartphone giant appears to be hard at work on its successor, the Honor View 20. Here's everything we know about the upcoming midrange powerhouse.
Deals

The best Walmart Black Friday deals in 2018

Walmart has historically been the undisputed king of Black Friday deals. The mega-store is known for offering deals on products in almost every category, from smart TVs to children’s toys. We're combing through every deal as it is…
Mobile

The Google Photos iOS app gets a bit better, now has depth control

Google updated the iOS version of the Google Photos app to now take advantage of the depth data that can be captured by the iPhone's camera in Portrait Mode. The new feature is already available in the Android app.
Mobile

T-Mobile-Sprint merger could close as early as first quarter of 2019, exec says

T-Mobile and Sprint are finally merging. After a few failed attempts, the two companies announced their merger at the start of 2018. Once it's complete, the new T-Mobile could be better positioned to take on the likes of Verizon and AT&T.