, the media-aggregation app, wants you to get lost in your reading about your passions.
The company on Wednesday released an overhauled redesign of how its digital magazines are presented, introducing more machine learning and editorial insight to show what stories are displayed. A new feature called Smart Magazines adds more personalization and narrowed discovery to topics a user follows.
Flipboard CEO Mike McCue said the change was a year in the making and the company’s biggest effort yet to attract more users and satisfy existing ones with their reading experience. The app now has more than 100 million monthly users, up from 50 million in February 2015.
The competition for e-readers has only gotten tougher (despite Facebook retiring Paper and Circa shutting down). Products like Apple News have gained traction, and still, the majority of Americans get their news on social media, according to Pew Research.
“People are interested in lots of things, but they are passionate about a few,” McCue said. “We’re trying to be the definitive place you go for interests and topics that you really care about. We want to inform people and inspire them, inform them through high quality journalism, beautiful presentation and the right audience.”
The app now opens up to a swipe-able carousel of individual magazines, while the previous version offered a collection of individual stories. As per the name and the origin of Flipboard, users still tap into and swipe up to read through stories. Stories are divided into multiple slides rather than swiping through one long page.
The first magazine, Cover Stories, remains a handpicked collection of stories from the top news sources a user follows. The following Smart Magazines are based on a user’s selected passions. For example, in the above image, Charlie selects photography and skateboarding.
The previous version of Flipboard would surface the same content in these topic-based magazines, while now, it is personalized based on what a user “likes,” reads and the other categories they select. People can search and select individual passions.
The update introduces more machine learning and algorithm-based sorting to the Flipboard experience, which is reminiscent of Facebook’s News Feed. McCue said that Flipboard still provides something more unique in how content is presented and in how stories are selected for a user.
“It’s a lot less random than what you see on Facebook, because you’re following interests as opposed to people,” McCue said. “We’ve been working on this a year or so I think we’ve managed to strike the right balance.”
“You’re following interests as opposed to people.”
With the redesign, Twitter is more deeply integrated into Flipboard. The company’s editorial team has selected so-called “thought leaders” on Twitter that can share tweets and stories that are brought into Smart Magazines. The tweets are indexed by topic.
Unlike Facebook, with its tendency to deny being a media company and lay off journalists, Flipboard keeps a full-staff of editorial members to curate content. The company recently hired a tech editor and has a politics editor and a sports editor.
Publishers that work with Flipboard do not need to do anything themselves to work with the app.
“We don’t think publishers should have to do extra work,” McCue said. “We provide the extra work to make that story discoverable and have that be mobilized and have it be monetized.”