After three years as a tablet-only app — and later, for smartphones, too — Flipboard is now making its way to the browser. Beginning Tuesday, user-created magazines will begin appearing on Flipboard.com, with the rest of the Flipboard experience to roll out later this year or early next year, Flipboard CEO Mike McCue told Mashable in a phone interview Monday.
So for the first time, some Flipboard content will be available for viewing on desktops. You will also be able to browse user-created Flipboard magazines on your smartphone or tablet browser.
Flipboard is an app that aggregates content from a wide variety of sources, including news websites, social networks and blogs, which you can organize into “flippable,” magazine-style pages. It launched on the iPad not long after Apple released the device in mid-2010, expanding later to the iPhone as well as Android smartphones and tablets. In March, allowed users to not only subscribe to magazine-style feeds, but also create their own.
When developing a browser version, McCue said Flipboard experimented with a number of different layouts, including vertical and horizontal scrolling and a “Snow Fall”-like format on which elements appeared mid-scroll. Ultimately, the team settled on a paginated design essentially identical to the one that appears on Flipboard’s tablet apps. Functionality is currently limited. You can read articles, click through to their original sources and subscribe to magazines, but the ability to Like and comment will be included in a future update, McCue said.
I asked McCue whether a full-screen, paginated layout makes sense for desktop readers, who don’t — or can’t — enjoy the same immersive “lean back” experience as tablet readers. He insisted the browser layout allows readers to quickly scan the content of the page and move on.
“I think it’s the best way to navigate through large amounts of content quickly,” he said. He also pointed out that windows can be easily resized to take up only part of a screen.
The decision to launch only user-created magazines on browsers, rather than than the entire Flipboard experience, is an interesting one. McCue indicated that it is easier for Flipboard to “roll out in pieces,” but I suspect the decision was partly promotional — a way to generate interest in and boost subscriber counts for user-created magazines.
In addition to the browser launch, Flipboard also revealed a new category dubbed “Big Ideas” on Tuesday, which features Flipboard’s first dive into original content, including an interview with former Larry King Live host Larry King.
When asked about Flipboard’s advertising business, McCue said that momentum has been “just awesome,” and that the company has recently added a number of new advertisers, including Gucci and Bottega Veneta.
User numbers are also continuing to rise, recently surpassing the 75 million mark, up from 50 million at the end of March.