After more than a decade, Flipboard is adding a new layer of social features to its platform. The service is adding new commenting and creation tools to its magazines as part of a broader “shift in emphasis towards community and conversations.”
Flipboard has had commenting features for years, but it’s been fairly basic, and hasn’t been a prominent part of the service, which until now has mostly been known as a place to read and share articles rather than a destination to talk about them. But with its latest update, the company is hoping to turn its signature magazines into the types of communities you might find on Reddit or Twitter.
To start, Flipboard is introducing “notes,” which allow users to add original content — whether it’s photos, video embeds, links or commentary — and add it to shared magazines. Other members of the magazine can then jump in with their own comments and add to the conversation. The idea, according to Flipboard CEO Mike McCue, is for these notes to become lively areas of discussion for people interested in the same “micro-communities.”
The company is also adding a new “communities” section to its app, which will highlight magazines and specific curators (Flipboard’s term for the people who manage topic-based magazines) to follow. All the new features are out now on the web, and are launching on its iOS and Android apps in January.
The company has been quietly testing the updates since July. It says there’s already been a noticeable uptick in engagement in magazines where the new interactivity is enabled.The changes also help make Flipboard into more of an alternative to Twitter for those who primarily use the Elon Musk-run service for consuming news. McCue says that Flipboard’s new social features predate Musk’s takeover of the company, and that he’s still a “Twitter believer.” But he acknowledges Flipboard’s shift is well-timed as some people are increasingly looking for different spaces to interact.
“It’s not like you’re in a giant open town square, and everyone’s just shouting at the top of their lungs,” McCue tells Engadget. “It’s more like we’re the little restaurants around the town square and people are at different dinner tables talking. There’s a different tone when you have these smaller groups.”
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