Flipboard's app for Android finally is tablet-friendly
Flipboard is showing Android tablets some love with an update that optimizes the popular reading app for 7-inch and 10-inch displays.
The free app, which originally made waves on the iPad more than two years ago, presents articles from around the Web in a magazine-style layout, with virtual pages to flip through. Users can connect to social networks like Facebook and Twitter to read the links their friends are sharing or add other sections curated by topic or publication.
Although Flipboard arrived on Android in June, the app didn't really take advantage of larger screens. Now, the new tablet-optimized version shows more tiles on the home screen, and more stories on each section page. And just like the iPad version, pages flip horizontally, rather than vertically.
I've been playing around with the app on my Nexus 7, and while the layout is an improvement, I found the app nearly impossible to use at this time. Lots of stories showed error messages, or wouldn't load at all. Other stories failed to format properly in landscape mode. The loading issues were present on both Flipboard's tablet mode and its phone mode, which you can easily switch back to through the app's settings.
Fortunately, my troubles may be only temporary. In response to a user review in the Google Play Store, Flipboard said it's experiencing high traffic due to the Android tablet release, which is why articles are taking so long to load.
“We are working on increasing our capacity, please be patient, we will have this sorted out very soon,” the company said. (It's worth noting, however, that Flipboard's iPad and iPhone apps also buckled under user demand at launch. It's a good problem to have, but maybe the company should've been more prepared by now.)
There's one other thing that's always bothered me about Flipboard, and it's the inconsistency in how stories are displayed. Some of them scroll vertically in a neatly formatted layout. Others have their own pages to flip. Others still jump right into a self-contained Web browser with no extra formatting.
A few show only part of the story, before requiring you to open an external browser to read the rest. This is due to the way publications allow their sites to be formatted, so in some way it's out of Flipboard's direct control, but the end result is an inconsistent experience for the user.
All gripes aside, I'm glad Flipboard is taking Android tablets seriously. It may be an early sign that the tablet app situation on Android devices is starting to look up.