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Review: Flipboard for Android

One of my most frequently used Android apps is NewsRob, an RSS reader with a huge number of options and Google Reader sync. Apps like NewsRob are meant for news junkies which subscribe to a lot of feeds that sum up to many hundreds of new articles every day. If you are one of those users the most important feature of such an app is letting you quickly browse through your article lists to sort out all irrelevant articles and keep the interesting ones. NewsRob does a perfect job with that. But pure RSS readers are not particularly pretty to look at for the casual users, which only want to follow a few news sources every now and then.

Flipboard was made for them, as it creates a magazine like experience based on your subscribed feeds. Initially Flipboard was created for iOS and made some big waves as it just makes reading feeds so much more sexy. When Samsung presented the Galaxy S 3 recently they also announced Flipboard as an exclusive app (for an unspecified amount of time) which comes preinstalled with the latest Samsung flagship device. Thanks to a XDA user which extracted the Flipboard apk everybody can try out the Android version now.

On initial setup you can either choose between a number of different Flipboard news categories and add them to your list or search for any RSS feed. Furthermore you can also integrate Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, 500px accounts and more.

Flipboard quickly pulls new articles from all selected sources and presents them with big nice pictures. As first entry you’ll find the cover stories tile with a selection of the most popular articles from all feeds.

On the start screen you can either touch a feed or the Cover Stories tile to access the articles or swipe upwards to access further pages of your feed overview. When switching to the second page you will also realize why this app is called Flipboard as there is a pretty nice paging animation. Articles are stripped nicely from the websites and presented without all the distracting elements like animated ads and banners. One feature which is missing from Flipboard is the option to download and convert full articles automatically from teaser RSS feeds. When opening a teaser feed you can switch to the browser mode to view the website with the full article. While this solution is ok I’d rather like to see the whole article in the native Flipboard view which is optimized for reading.

There are also two different widgets available, in small and medium size. Both can be changed using the Android 4.0 built-in widget resizing feature. But they basically only show one article at a time and you have to cycle through each entry by touching the refresh button on the lower right corner, which makes them pretty useless for me.

Flipboard does provide the option to forward articles to services like read it later, instapaper and readibility though if you want to get back to specific content later.

Overall this is really one of the most polished magazine readers on the market, so its nice to see Flipboard arrive on Android. Even though I still use NewsRob as my main RSS reader, Flipboard is perfect for a couple of other sources I follow infrequently. If you are interested in consuming news with great magazine visuals you should definitely give Flipboard a try.