May 9, 2012 at 5:29 PM ET
Americans may not trust the media, but they trust friends to tell them about news. According to research by schools.com, 28 percent of the news Americans get comes from social media, mainly Facebook. With that in mind, a company called Flipboard launched about a year and a half ago with an app that builds a kind of online newspaper based on what friends are posting on Facebook and tweeting.
Like Instagram and several other popular apps that began as Apple-only, Flipboard is finally trickling over to Android devices, which vastly outnumber Apple's iPhones in the U.S.
Technically, Flipboard is only on the new, high-end Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone. But an enterprising owner pulled a copy of the app off his phone and made it available for all to download (with a fair amount of finagling needed to install it).
Downloading the app and getting it onto an Android phone is mildly tricky. I gave it a try to preview what Android owners should be seeing soon.
As soon as you install Flipboard, you’ll be able to create a customized news reader by choosing from 17 categories such as News in general, Technology, Science, Business, Music and Politics. Info is culled from many sources, including the Los Angeles Times, ABC and the Huffington Post.
"Flipboard Picks" is a selection of news stories put together by the Flipboard staff. That was how I learned about an underwater hotel being built in Dubai that I probably wouldn’t have found otherwise.
You can also bring in your social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. Doing that, you see items that your friends have linked to, such as the story of the double agent who infiltrated a terrorist cell and thwarted a bomb attack this week. But I also got baby pictures from a “friend” whom I only slightly know. I had better luck getting “real” news from Twitter, because I tend to follow people for news, not social connections.
Facebook and Twitter are the only social networks in this first version for Android. But more are likely coming. The iPhone and iPad version includes LinkedIn (which in my case, mostly yielded real news stories), Tumblr, Instagram and photo site Flickr.
The version of Flipboard that I shimmied into my Virgin Mobile Motorola Triumph phone was a bit buggy, often locking up ― not surprising, since it wasn’t really meant for this phone.
You’ll likely have a much smoother process if you wait for the official version of Flipboard for Android, avoiding both the lockups and the tricky process of installing it.
If you want to find out the moment the official version is available, you can register to get an email alert at the Flipboard site.
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