There are many things for which us Android fans are supposedly jealous of the iPad, yet few have made our eyes more green than Flipboard. This news aggregator app is marketed as a 'social magazine', previously available only on iPad, but now free for Android smartphones, too.
Flipboard for Android brings together all your interests in a beautiful and easy-to-read format. You start by selecting from a broad range of topics, such as Technology, News, Film, Celebrity and Gaming, but can also add to your Flipboard your Google+, Facebook, Twitter and other social-media accounts, and all manner of RSS feeds, from the Daily Telegraph and Photoshop Disasters to Cool Hunting. These join Cover Stories, which includes popular content or stories shared by your friends via social media, as tiles on Flipboard's main interface. See Best Android Apps.
A Search function lets you find RSS feeds not immediately available in the main category lists, and produces results as you type. We were able to quickly find and add PC Advisor's Twitter feed, Google+ account, Facebook fan page, Flickr gallery and more in this way. You can search for people, topics, websites and blogs, too, and you can even post status updates or comment on friends' posts from directly within the app.
Perhaps more important is the speed with which Flipboard for Android loads the content you want to see. By loading single pages of content and images, which you must flip up or down to view the next page (exactly like a real-world flipboard), text and images appear as you swipe, even when using a 3G connection. With the iPad you instead slide content from side to side, yet the action felt surprisingly natural here.
The interface is very clean and intuitive, and the ease with which you view content is made simpler still by the ability to select a full-screen mode and change the text size in the settings menu. Also here is a Content Guide option, letting you select to view content optimised for where you live; Flipboard for Android offers 14 localised editions, including a UK-specific version.
You can also add a Flipboard widget to the home screen of your Android smartphone, specifying the intervals at which it should refresh content or opting to do so on-demand.
If you use more than one Android smartphone, or also own an iPad on which you'd like to enjoy Flipboard, you can sign up for a free account that lets you sync your content selections across devices.
There's very little we don't like about Flipboard for Android, save for its dependence on an internet connection. Pages can be saved for offline viewing if you have an Instapaper, Pocket or Readability account, however. If only Flipboard worked on our Android tablet, too.