Written by JP Mangalindan
Flipboard, the popular media-aggregating app, is no longer just for mobile.
The company on Tuesday introduced Flipboard for the Web, a browser-based experience that takes Flipboard's clean, slick look on tablets and smartphones and blows it out for the desktop. Many of the features available on mobile are now also available in the web version, including Cover Stories, which handpicks and presents a collection of stories up top from the news sources a user follows. But this go-around, photos receive more attention thanks to the larger screen.
A thin navigation bar lines the top and keeps things simple with seven options, including shortcuts back to the home screen, Cover Stories, the news sources a user follows, an "Explore" button that displays up to 34,000 topics to discover, a search option, notifications and the user's profile.
Flipboard CEO Mike McCue says the web experience has been years in the making, and it sometimes shows, even in this early version. The navigation bar sometimes fades away for a moment when a user scrolls past a particularly large image, then reappears when the image trails offscreen.
Galleries also get special treatment: A Flickr collection of "jaw-dropping caves," for instance, is highlighted alongside a color tile filled with text. Flipboard has developed technologies on the back-end that not only resize images, titles, and stories on-the-fly based on the size of a reader's screen, but matches tile colors based on the color that dominates a series of photos. So in the case of that caves gallery, the tile of text alongside becomes a matching copper color. Obviously, it's a small touch but nonetheless a nice one.
McCue originally founded the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Flipboard in 2010 as an app for tablet users that pulls content from publishers including The New York Times, Vanity Fair, and yes, Fortune, among others, and presents it in a magazine-like layout. (“Your personal magazine,” as Flipboard continues to describe itself.)
Flipboard, which has raised nearly $160 million from backers including Jack Dorsey, Ron Conway, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, now reports nearly 50 million monthly readers, up from 30 million in October 2014. Flipboard's latest serious software update for mobile last October beefed up the experience, adding in things like updated Cover Story designs and a quick-access tab bar to get around the app.
While Flipboard for the Web may seem like an afterthought given the mobile app launched five years ago and up to 70% of all users now read Flipboard on their smartphones, McCue contends it's anything but. Indeed, while the number of mobile users trumped desktop users in the U.S. for the first time ever last year, comScore estimates there remain over 1.7 billion U.S. desktop users out there — an impossible number for a developer to ignore, even in this mobile-dominated age.
“Originally, it was going to be a web experience, and then we felt like the web technology wasn’t where we needed it to be," McCue tells Mashable. Then I started hearing rumors about a tablet from Apple. Ultimately, we shifted to focus on this mythical tablet we kept hearing about and decided to get Flipboard for that. Now, we’re coming full circle."
Source: News 360