Flipboard, the first truly social electronic magazine, is an application for content consumption. This is not your new full-functioned Twitter or Facebook client on an iPad; it’s a way to read the articles your friends think are most interesting in a format that emphasizes photos, typography, and the appeal of well-placed white space.
Flipboard is a free app, and once you have it installed and you’re logged in to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, it will scan your friends’ posts and present the links and articles that they’ve been posting to Facebook or Twitter to you in a magazine-like layout. Your Facebook friends, their shared links, photos, and videos are all arranged in a layout that looks much better than Facebook itself, and the links from the people you follow on Twitter are pre-loaded and the articles displayed in-line.You don’t have to scroll endlessly through pages and pages of content to find the things you’re looking for, either: They’re all laid out on pages that look like you’re reading an actual magazine, and you can move your finger across the iPad display to flip between pages. The app also recognizes if your iPad is in portrait or display mode, and will change the page layout accordingly.
Once you have your accounts added, the app will show you all of your available sections, and you can opt to view just the links and posts from your Facebook friends, the people you follow on Twitter, or any of the pre-loaded channels that the app from popular news sources elsewhere on the Web. When you enter one of the channels based on your social network, the app displays the media from your social networks laid out like a magazine, with the hottest and most popular news stories highlighted.
If someone’s posted something particularly interesting, you can tap it to zoom in on the article and read the whole thing. If there’s an associated image or embedded video, you can tap it to zoom in on the image or to play the video inside the app without having to leave Flipboard and open a video player. When you’re using the Twitter or Facebook sections of the app, you have the ability to interact with your social network straight from Flipboard, which means you can like, comment, and re-share links on Facebook from inside Flipboard. Over in the Twitter section you can retweet and reply to links and interesting tweets as well.
The word is the next version will be even more interesting, as it will be powered by the relevance engine built by Ellerdale. In recent weeks, Flipboard acquired Ellerdale, which had developed a set of real-time search and discovery tools based on Twitter. Ellerdale co-founder Arthur van Hoff has joined Flipboard as Chief Technology Officer.