Almost as soon as Flipboard's social magazine for the iPad launched in the summer of 2010, people wanted to know when the iPhone version would debut. Co-founder and CEO Mike McCue confirmed at SXSW earlier this year that an iPhone app was in the works and told Bloomberg in April that it would ship at the end of the summer.
Having seen a version of the app a few weeks ago, we know it's for real. And just yesterday, McCue tweeted a reply to Ustream's Jeff Finkelstein, who asked McCue about the summer ship date: "yes well that's the last time I preannounce a ship date :-) bottom line is it has to be great before we ship. It's close."
McCue's other telling tweet yesterday was a response to a similar question: "well, I'm replying to you with the app now. Still a bit more polishing needed. Getting close."
The iPhone app most definitely does not feel like Flipboard for your iPad. The big difference we noticed: you flip up and down rather than flip horizontally. The version we saw didn't look as beautiful as a typical Flipboard iPad page, probably because it had more black background while the iPad app's background is white.
We didn't love it the way we love the iPad app, but we could see it being useful for those moments in your day when you want a quick update -- which is how Flipboard wants you to use it.
As Flipboard community manager Jon Virtes explained in a September 2011 update to the GetSatisfaction page where someone asked about the iPhone app a year ago, "In a lot of ways this is going to be something new, and the two versions work very well together, one for when you're at home relaxing with a cup of coffee, the other for when you're on the go."
That description sounds much like the ReadWriteWeb summary of McCue's talk at their event in mid-June, where McCue said usage peaks between 8pm and 11pm, mornings and weekends:
"An iPhone Flipboard application is intended to be the opposite and fill in the hours of the day when people are not using the app. It is one of the fundamental differences between a tablet and a smartphone. Whereas an iPad is a 'lean-back' device, an iPhone is a 'lean-forward' device. People check it more regularly for news updates that are pertinent to day-to-day activities."
Flipboard, which McCue co-founded in January 2010, raised $50M in April from Insight Venture Partners, Comcast Interactive Capital, Kleiner Perkins and Index Ventures as well as Jack Dorsey, Ron Conway, Dustin Moskovitz and Ashton Kutcher.
iPad app: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/flipboard/id358801284?mt=8
Email: mike at flipboard dot com
Mike McCue on "This Week in Startups" (June 2011)