How to Develop a Social News App Like Flipboard?

Updated on Jun 9th, 2022


Ranking among the top news and teens app, Flipboard has earned a distinct name for bringing the two seemingly unrelated worlds together. The social networking aspect of the app with personalization makes it a hip choice among young users, whereas the amazing curation of content from all the different spheres makes it a great app for people interested in very specific genres and current affairs.

No wonder the app has been making sight in many of the hot-apps lists across the various digital publications. Also, no surprise, you’re looking to build an app similar to it. After all, every little update in the app is making news now; a clear sign that the company is shooting for the stars and scaling great heights too. But before we give you any deeper insights around how you can achieve your goal of creating an app like Flipboard, let’s refresh our knowledge on the app and its history a little.

  • Flipboard is a popular social news aggregation channel that runs on web, Android devices and Apple devices as well.
  • The app is famous for its personalized and curated magazine feature.
  • As of the date of this post, the app has already garnered over a million users.
  • The app is available in 21 languages. 

A Brief Introduction to the Flipboard

Flipboard is a popular ‘smart magazine’ app that aggregates news from various sources and then creates personalized feeds for users. First launched in July 2010, the app became popular soon after owing to its captivating concept. The sources from where the app collates content are already quite popular among their respective base of users, the additional value of personalization makes it an instant hit among a greater user base. As of the publication date of the post, the app already is boasting over a million active users on Android devices and over two hundred thousand on Apple ones.

The name of the app comes from its intuitive functionality of ‘flipping’ the stories from feed to personalized magazines. The simple flipping feature makes the app more engaging and captivating, making it easy for the users to catch up on everything they’re interested into without ever feeling drowned by the information.

Other than AI-empowered personalized feeds, the app also lets users create personal magazines out of the stories they saved for later. This innovative feature won the app more user engagement, so much so that just within six years of its launch over 28 million personal magazines were created by the users of the app! Other than the personalization of content, the app also facilitates the customization of language, and at present, it offers content in more than 20 languages.

How to Start the Development Process?

The little description above is sufficient to clarify that developing an app this feature-rich is no child’s game. It’s going to require a team’s effort, and the easiest thing for you to do is hire a social app development company. That being said, even the latter is going to require some sophisticated approach. Here we’re approaching the topic to ensure that you understand all that is required from you to make the process efficient and cost-effective at every stage.


Conduct Market Research

The foremost thing for you to do is conduct extensive market research. Flipboard, though among the most popular apps in the category, is not the only app out there to compete and learn from. m. Feedly, Inoreader, Pocket, NewsBlur, Digg Reader, and Feedbin are among the other popular apps in the category, each with their own unique selling points. The goal here is to learn from each app, both the pain points and what they are doing right to retain and grow their user base. Once that’s done, you can finalize the list of the features you want your social new aggregator app to have.

Finalize the Features for Flipboard Clone App Development

It is clear that Flipboard is a feature-rich app with functionalities as robust and reliable as they are captivating. Here’s a list of features you must consider if you want your app to be as successful as Flipboard.

Personalized Feed

The key feature of the app, without which it would not stand out from the hundreds of the other news aggregator apps present in the market, is its capacity to create uniquely personalized feeds for users based on, not just the interests they have manually selected, but also the ones that they have shown interest in while exploring the app. The machine learning algorithm in the app also keeps tracks of the topics that interest users more than the rest based on the time they spend pursuing a topic, and then eventually shows more of the same.

News Tagging

The app's personalization feature begins with its tagging capabilities. All the news the app aggregates from various sources gets tagged gas per their genres. All this tagged content then adds up into a dynamic database which gets relayed on to the users' feed as per their chosen interest. The simple feature of tagging also later helps the app in implementing its machine learning algorithms through which they personalize the content for users even more to keep them better engaged.

Content Saving

Apart from empowering users to select the kind of content they get to see; the app also enables them to curate the content for later perusing. They can easily bookmark all the stories, images, and videos they found useful and then save it under one of the pre-designed categories. They can also curate news to create a personalized magazine, but since it is an exciting functionality of the app on its own, we'll discuss more it in detail later.

Daily Editions

Now no news app can be called 'a news app' unless it brings stories from the world to you regardless of whether you're specifically looking for them or not. Besides one cannot be expected to know about their interests at all times. This is why another important feature for you to clone is the discovery section. Other than the personalized feed the users can also switch on to the feed with all the trending topics.

Personal Magazine

The content saving feature not only helps you in curating content in respective categories but also to create an interactive personal magazine out of it. A similar feature for your app will ensure that you not only engage your users better but also retain them longer, making them your brand ambassador as they promote their curations on your platform.

Editorial Magazines

Building upon the last feature, the app also showcases editorial magazines wherein users get to publish their personalized magazines for other users making it public. In fact, most of the magazines the app features these days are curated content by the well-known publicists of the platform. Once a content curator becomes popular enough, they can start charging for their subscription, creating a lucrative source of monetization for the app owner too.

Social Sharing

Since it is a social new app, social sharing is a must-have feature for any of its clone apps. Without making the content shareable on your app, you will limit your users to share their curations and other interesting content through manual methods, which isn’t a great way to promote a newly-built platform. Instead, you should focus on integrating your app with as many popular social networks as possible in order to improve its discoverability.

Third-Party Media Integration

Another important feature without which an app like Flipboard wouldn’t function at all is the integration with third party digital news and content outlets. Recreating content over and again can easily become an overhead task and investment without any real benefits. Instead, you should integrate your app with popular news channels online, to simply relay their news and attract more users by including popular and authentic sources on your platform.


Additional Features to Add More Value to the App 

Once you have all the important features in your app like Flipboard, you’re all set to meet the expectations of your targeted users. However, considering that Flipboard is already quite a popular app, you are bound to face tough competition to acquire a user base for your app. This is why, for your Flipboard clone app to become as successful or more than Flipboard, it is essential for you to offer more value to the users. This you can do by offering better services, an improved interface, or some additional functionalities. Here we have enlisted a combination of features that can help you make your app stand out from the competition.


The original app is already building a lot of fame owing to its user-generated content. You can pick this game of the platform and take it up another notch by building a community around it. Note that since the platform has user bases with a wide variety of interests your community will tend to look more like that of Reddit than any other small platform. This means you will need to deal with Big Data, and hence should consider hiring a Big Data company for the purpose.

Smart Gesture Recognition

Another area where the platform is not leveraging enough is the use of smart gestures on most modern devices. With combination of smart gestures like double swipe, designated taps, and shape swiping, you can make the app more functional and intuitive for your users. Additionally, this will help you tap into the psyche of modern smartphone users, who instead of looking for options on screen to touch and proceed with them, rely more on gestures to engage with their favorite apps.

Users Feedback

By allowing your users to post their feedback, private or public you will not only help them feel more heard but will also help enhance the quality of the content you showcase on your platform. You can always give the users (content creators and curators) the right to manage the users’ feedback; i.e. they can always get to choose whether they show the users comment on their work publicly accept them privately, or don’t bother about them at all. This freedom will not only encourage content creators to participate on your platform, but will also cultivate a spirit of freedom of expression.

Develop MVP for the Flipboard Like App

Even if you don’t go for the features that get you the competitive edge, the clone app itself is so full of robust functionalities, it cannot be made all at once; at least not smoothly. This is why, once you have finalized all the features for your app, the next step should be to begin the development of MVP or the minimum viable product. An MVP is the leaner version of the app, prototype if you will, that contains all the principal features of the app without any advanced functionalities either in terms of logic or interface.

For this, the ideal way to move forward is to use the Agile methodology. The software development practices of Agile will allow you to include MVP development in your project timeline effortlessly. Furthermore, the iterative sprints will help you maintain and scale up your app with time, making it an active investment with minimal risks of ever becoming obsolete.

The foremost thing to do here as well as to select the basic features, on the basis of the dependabilities of the features and the primary expectations of the app.

Read More: A Complete Guide on App Development for Start-ups

UI/UX Development

Once the MVP development begins, you should hire UI/UX developers as well to begin their job simultaneously. Both the teams can do their respective tasks with complete coordination to ensure no compatibility issues. While creating the interface of the app, make sure you understand your audience well. As mentioned above, you should add as many gestures as your target audience can understand, and enjoy while navigating through your app. Since it is a ‘social news app’ make sure you add some elements to it in ways that most social media networks and their applications do. The familiarity of the most popular social media apps will help your users understand the interface of the app quicker, and make it more engaging for them sooner.

Maintain and Grow

Last, but not least, the final step in the development of a Flipboard-like app is to maintain and grow the same. today’s users are dynamic, and their demands change overnight. This is why it is important to adopt agile methodology so that you can keep getting user feedback and implementing the same in iterative processes. To maintain the scalability of the app, it is also recommended to use cloud technology. The distributed processing and storage will make it easy for you to scale, the number of users and the features of the app, and develop new functionalities from anywhere and at any time.


Wrapping It Up

Flipboard is one of the most popular news aggregator apps in the market at present. The intuitive ‘flipping’ gesture of the app and the seamless personalization of the content makes it a popular choice among users. If you’re looking to build a similarly popular app, which is as useful as it is addictive, know that it is going to require a team effort. You will need a team of experts skilled in data ETL, UI/UX, machine learning, networking, and, project management. The two core features of the app the personalization of the content and the captivating UX of curators and personal magazines need skillsets of the highest caliber and varying kinds.

This is why when it comes to developing such complex apps, you should always partner only with reliable social app development companies like Matellio. With decades of experience in creating featureful mobile apps, we have all that it takes to develop a successful and captivating app like Flipboard. But don’t take our word for it. We suggest you book a free 30-minute consultation call with our experts and share your ideas with them. They will check the feasibility of your ideas, create a project plan, and share a quote all for free.

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