When translating its popular iPad app for magazine reading to the iPhone, Flipboard didn't just shrink its app down to iPhone size. It thought about the differences, including but not limited to size, between iPhones and iPads and created the app accordingly. And it's working: Due to high demand after last night's launch, @Flipboard tweeted that service is currently down.
The biggest, most obvious difference between that iPad and iPhone is screen size, which presents particular problems for reading. It's not that fun to squint at tiny letters on a screen or to scroll down forever on long articles, which has a "higher physical and mental burden," explains Poynter's Jeff Sonderman. especially on a small screen Flipboard addresses both of these issues. The app fills the entire screen with images and text, wasting no space with buttons, using swiping instead continues Sonderman. "This results in a markedly different experience than for most news apps, with their ever-present navigation bars and menus," he writes. "Flipboard gets out of the way and lets you immerse yourself in content." As for the scrolling issue, Flipboard breaks up articles into distinct pages, having users flip instead, eliminating scrolling forever. While the swiping might not sound intuitive, Flipboard tries to correct for that, reminding readers to page forward for more content with a simulated "page flapping in the breeze" at the bottom of each screen, adds AllThingsD's Katherine Boehret.
But beyond screen size, iPhones and iPads differ in utility. People use iPads at home, in bed; iPhones get worked throughout the day in various places. To cater to people with less time, on the go, Flipboard introduces "cover stories," a selection of content off of a user's various social networking sites. Trying to figure out what a user might like based on what their friends are sharing and liking -- kind of like the Facebook method -- Cover Stories put those stories right up top and supposedly gets better with use. Also with on-the-go users in mind, the iPhone app is fast. Boehret flipped through dozens of news bits and images while she waiting in line at Starbucks, for example.
We also interact with our iPhone's in a different way than we would an iPad. Recognizing that most hold their iPhone's vertically, Flipboard opted for a vertical page through gesture over the traditional side-swipe. It's not intuitive to page through that way. At least we immediately tried swiping across. But after the app denies that action, it takes a few seconds to swipe up instead. And it makes for easier browsing while holding the phone.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.