The news-reading app Flipboard announced a major update — one that, among other things, allows users to create their own personalized "magazines" for public viewing. Although "allow" might be too generous. "Imposes on users by default" might be closer to the truth.
From Flipboard's announcement:
Using the new Plus “+” button found on items in Flipboard or by using the new Flipboard Bookmarket for the web, readers can fill their magazines with content that expresses a point of view, reflects personal tastes or shares ideas they find inspiring.
In other words, Flipboard has introduced a poor man's "Like" button. The service is now counting on its users to begin tagging the articles and other items they find most interesting, creating a trail of "plussed" items that Flipboard will publicly associate with their online identities by default. This might, of course, take any number of people by surprise.
Flipboard also didn't say what it hopes to gain from the new feature, although cataloguing what users like has certainly proven a financial and data-collection bonanza for the likes of Facebook.
The new features aren't intended for readers only. Flipboard hopes existing publishers will use its new functions to promote articles and other material from their archives:
For publishers this is a new way to share archival content, publish great collections or package together stories in a totally new way on Flipboard.
Aspects of the "Plus" feature, of course, are similar to various "Read Later" bookmarklet services such as Instapaper and Pocket. The unique thing here, though, is the way Flipboard effectively publishes its users' preferences to the world as personalized "magazines" — by default, of course:
Because magazines are public, they can grow an audience and others can like items, comment on posts, or even subscribe to other people’s magazines. When people interact with a magazine, the curator learns about it through new Flipboard Notifications.
For each item that’s flipped into a magazine, attribution back to the source is preserved, and if the content is from a social network interactions such as commenting, retweeting or liking are reflected back to the originating social network.
Flipboard also announced "Content Search," a search box at the top of every page that "lets readers find anything being shared on Flipboard." The twist here is that each set of search results effectively turns into its own Flipboard-style magazine.
The company also announced a partnership with the "social commerce" site Etsy. Flipboard readers can review Etsy products and make purchases from within Flipboard. The company did not state if this would impact existing purchasing rules and fees in any way, such as the 30% fee that Apple charges for in-app purchases. Flipboard also did not announce any new services or metrics that would enable readers or publishers to gauge pageviews and engagement of their "magazine."
Flipboard has continued to garner interest from news media, the investment community and tablet users. Recently, Flipboard has been touted as a replacement for the deprecated Google Reader. Earlier this month, well-known venture capitalist John Doerr joined the board.
The company calls this "the biggest release ever." Flipboard is a free app that claims more than 50 million users across iPhone, iPad and Android. Though the Flipboard app is available on Android, the features announced today are currently available only on iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.
Lead image screencapped from the Flipboard app