Personalised “magazine” apps are more popular than ever on mobile devices. Whether you prefer Zite, Flipboard, Pulse or any of the other contenders, there’s something great about a tool that plucks out the news you want to read, rather than leaving you to hunt the signal among all the noise.
These services work by dragging in content from a huge variety of websites and sorting it into hundreds of increasingly granular categories. You choose your categories and the apps bring you stories, learning over time from which ones you tend to read or ignore, and which you like or dislike after reading. Plus, by connecting your social networks, an app can see what kind of links are being shared among your contacts and bring you more of that.
As good as they can be at varying your reading, though, none of these apps is the perfect curator, which is why a new feature added in the recent Flipboard 2.0 update on iOS is so appealing. If you’ve ever wanted to edit your own magazine, this is your chance.
Okay, you’re not technically editing anything – the content is still produced, edited and published elsewhere – but you are curating it. You’re deciding what content is good enough for others to read, and you’re packaging it together into a gorgeous newspaper-style layout.
The broader topics have already been given the full treatment, but Flipboard lets you add anything you find, so the real fun comes in creating something more personal. Like pictures of cats wearing clothes? Create the Cats in Clothes magazine. Search and fill it with pictures of cats wearing clothes. Share it around and become the go-to Flipboard user for clothed cats.
Magazines can be as public or as private as you want them to be, so it’s just as useful to create a magazine of articles you want kept in one place for a research project. Or use it as an alternative to services such as Instapaper: create a Read Later magazine and fill it with stories throughout the day for a more leisurely catch-up in the evening.
How to create a Flipboard magazine
STEP 1: Download and open the free Flipboard app, and you’ll be asked straight away to choose some starting categories to pull in content. Pick a few that interest you, but don’t worry too much – you can change all of this later.
STEP 2: That’s all it takes to produce your own basic personalised news reader. Categories are laid out across multiple pages, so swipe left and right to see more. Right now the content probably won’t be perfect, so we need to refine it.
STEP 3: The first step is to create an account. Tap the account button in the bottom corner and choose a username and password, and perhaps add a profile picture so other users will recognise your magazines more easily.
STEP 4: Flipboard draws content from social media, so tap the options button in the top corner, go to Accounts and sign in to any networks where you like to read news content. This adds a section for each network to your home page.
STEP 5: For real control over content, though, you need a magazine. When you find a story you like, tap the plus icon. Give the new magazine a name and an optional description, select the category under which you’d like it to appear, and decide whether it should be publicly visible.
STEP 6: That’s your first magazine started, but it needs more content, so repeat the process with other relevant stories. Tap the plus icon, but this time simply select the magazine and tap Add to include the story.
STEP 7: You can read your magazines by tapping your name on the home page. Every good magazine needs a good front cover, and if Flipboard has chosen poorly just open an item with a better picture, tap the share icon and choose Promote to Cover.
STEP 8: When your magazine is ready for public consumption, open it up and tap the Share button. You can either Share Magazine, which creates a link to send via your social networks, or Email magazine, which does the same in an email.
STEP 9: That’s your bit done, but other people are editing their own brilliant magazines too. The By Our Readers section has some great ones – tap the Subscribe button to add any of them to your personal Flipboard.