I have a soft spot in my digital heart for Flipboard. It was the first thing I downloaded when I won my iPad (thanks to a contest by The 60 Second Marketer!). My good friend at The Social Penguin Blog, Mike McGrail, told me it was a must-have app, and he was right. Flipboard turns publications, blogs you follow, and your social media outlets’ updates into a digital magazine. The slick interface allows you to literally flip through your options, your pages and your updates. It’s a well made app and I’ve loved it from day one. Then, enter Google Currents.
Google Currents does mostly all of the same things that Flipboard does, with a couple additions. I compare and contrast the two below for you:
- As of the time of this blog, Flipboard is available on iOS only. You can sign up to receive an email notification when it becomes available for Android mobile phones (and that is the website’s verbiage. There’s no mention of tablets.) As can be expected, Google Currents is available for iOS devices and Android devices already.
- The Currents home screen is a bit cleaner, but almost sterile. You have scrolling images of interesting and trending topics, with icons for each of your publications and blogs. Flipboard opts for larger images to represent each publication or blog, often pulled from the website, blog, or publication itself. In both interfaces you can change the order of the publications and blogs. Currents is cleaner, but I find Flipboard’s home page more visually appealing.
- Currents allows you to share interesting articles to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instapaper, Pinboard, Read It Later, and Tumblr, using the link shortener goo.gl. Flipboard allows you to connect to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instapaper and Read It Later, and shortens links using flpbd.it. When sending with Google Currents, you get that satisfying Twitter whistle too. I don’t know why, but I love that. I don’t know that either offer analytics on these shortened links.
- Whereas it seems Google Currents has a much higher number of publications available (especially in niche areas and foreign language publications), Flipboard allows you to add your social networking sites to the interface. As you are reading and sharing interesting stories, you can also check up on the most recent Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn updates (no Google+ as of the time of this blog). So far as I can see, you cannot add your social media sites to Currents.
- One of the biggest crushers for me is that Google Currents allows you to view much more content offline. I like to read up on things while on the bus in the morning and evening, and having the ability to do it from my iPad rather than my iPhone is amazing. Currents allows you to sync your publications’ stories when connected and make them fully readable without a connection later. Since my iPad is the WiFi version and not the 3G version, this is a key factor in which of the two I’d use more often. This is only for publications, however. If you are trying to read blogs, you will only get the preview with a link to the original content source, which will then require an internet connection to continue viewing.
- Currents also features “trending stories” in which Google collects stories that may be interesting and relevant to you, and allows you to view them all at once. The news literally comes to you. Flipboard has a similar function called “Cover Stories” in which it collects the most recent news articles that you follow, as well as your social updates, and puts them all under one header on the main page.
- Finally (and a special thanks to Paolo Amoroso for reminding me about this) another big win for Google Currents is that it allows anyone to be a Producer of content, not just selected media partners. This really opens up the playing field to allow more information to become immediately available through a single interface. As a matter of fact, you can subscribe to this blog on Google Currents by going to Robzie Social here, and then clicking Add to Library. Once you hit 200 subscribers, your content can be found via the search option. Currents also allows you to subscribe to content curators, such as one of my favorites Guy Kawasaki, which provides those curators more visibility and users with a wide array of content. To my knowledge, Flipboard does not offer this option.
At this point, I’m still torn as to which I’m going to stick with. I’m jumping back and forth between both. I would personally like to see Flipboard take the ball and show Google that it will not be outdone. I’m crossing my fingers for that. Where do you stand? Are you using either of these, or something else? What would you like to see come out of either of these interfaces? Chime in below!
Now go get your social on!