I’ve written before about the way that my personal technology, including my iPhone and the Instapaper web service, have changed the way I read. I now have a simple method for gathering text (RSS, the Reeder app), a straightforward system for reading those items that show promise (Instapaper), and the ability to share what I like through email or social networks.
This week, however, things changed dramatically. My wonderful and beautiful (and patient and tolerant) wife gave me an iPad for my birthday. As a hardcore Apple fanboy, I know everything there is to know about these devices. I can recite their specs and troubleshoot their problems even though I’ve never owned one until now. I thought that I understood the draw of the tablet over the laptop or smartphone, but I didn’t really appreciate it until this week.
While I expected to continue using Reeder and Instapaper through their iPad versions, I did not anticipate how much I would enjoy reading with one other application: Flipboard. I had heard about it from others and knew that it could pull in your RSS feeds, Facebook news feed, and Twitter timeline. But that’s just the beginning.
Flipboard (free app, iTunes store link) takes these feeds, along with recommended reading from the likes of The Atlantic, National Geographic, Geekologie, and MANY others, and puts them into a gorgeous magazine interface. The reader flips through pages of articles with bright color photos. One tap on an article and it feels the screen in an animation that must be seen to be appreciated. There one can read the entire article, post to Twitter, send to Instapaper, or email a link. In short, everything that I might want to do with it.
The end result is a powerfully engaging reading experience that I find myself coming back to several times a day. While my kids keep trying to borrow the iPad to play games and watch YouTube videos, I slip away to a quiet place and read for hours. I get lost in the experience, similar to the way we all surfed the Internet for hours in the early days of web browsing when hyperlinks would take you down a rabbit hole that you would never have imagined. I see this as the future of twenty-first century reading, and I think that it has tremendous potential for bringing young people back to the page, albeit a digital one.
I’m still exploring some of the amazing things that a tablet can do, and I’m sure to have more thoughts and questions to share here in the near future. In the meantime, I’ve got a lot of reading to do.
What’s your favorite use for your iPad?