Newly Updated ‘Flipboard’ iPad App: Even Better!

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My iPad is bursting at the seams with wonderful applications. If I had to pick just one of them as the romantic ideal of what a tablet app can and should be, it would be Flipboard.

This “social magazine”–which brings together stuff from Facebook, Twitter, and the entire Web into a wonderfully browsable package–simply couldn’t have existed in the pre-iPad era. And its user interface is a thing of wonder: an amazingly polished, fun experience that both feels like a magazine and like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It’s not just the best one I’ve seen on an iPad app; it’s one of the best ones I’ve seen on anything.

(MORE: Flipboard iPad App Makes a Magazine from Twitter, Facebook)

Can you tell that I kind of like this program? Well, now I like it even more. The company just rolled out an update, and cofounder Mike McCue briefed me on it last week and gave me the chance to spend a couple of days with it before it hit the App Store.

Flipboard hasn’t changed radically, but there are a bunch of improvements that make it even more….well, Flipboardy.

  • Until now, the only way to read a feed within Flipboard was to add it as a section–a requirement akin to forcing you to subscribe to a magazine without having the chance to flip through it at the newsstand. The new version revamps the browser you use to find sources, giving you commitment-free access to all of its sources. You can still add your favorites as sections, but you can also peruse stuff willy-nilly if you choose.
  • You can now connect your Linked In account to Flipboard, creating a section of stories recommended by your business connections there.
  • Stories from Flipboard partners such as All Things Digital, The New Yorker, and National Geographic–which are displayed in customized formats that look particularly magazine-like–are more artfully woven into the interface. (You used to have to tap your way through an intermediary page that showed articles in shrunken form; now you go straight to the article.)
  • When you’re reading an article in Flipboard, you can swipe your way on to the next story without having to backtrack into the main section page.
  • There’s now a “Popular on Flipboard” flag that identifies stories that lots of folks are checking out.

Flipboard has a number of worthy competitors that are either a little bit like it or quite a bit like it–apps such as Zite, Taptu, Pulse, and News360, all of which have earned spots on my iPad.

And yet it also stands alone. It’s such a perfect fit for the iPad that it’s a little hard to envision it anywhere else. Which is why I’m curious about what it’ll look like when it hits the iPhone–which McCue told me it’ll do before too long.

MORE: I Want a ‘Personalized Magazine of the Past’