Google Currents: Why Flipboard should be nervous

Google Currents upstages Flipboard, creating a brand new source of competition in the news app market.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor on

Google Currents debuted with a bang on Thursday, and immediately the new news reader platform for mobile devices drew comparisons to Flipboard.

See also: Introducing Google Currents, Google's all-in-one news app

Often times when a new product is released that is similar to something else that already exists, there is going to be a lot of buzz over whether or not the new product will kill off the predecessor. Sometimes, this talk is unwarranted.

However, in this case, Flipboard's team has cause to worry. Even though Flipboard was heralded as the iPad app of the year in 2010, Google Currents is one of the few apps to debut since that has followed Flipboard's original recipe and built upon it without going overboard.

Primarily, Flipboard has found success because it is a very simple, yet elegant way of presenting multiple sources of information within one mobile application. Google Currents does the same thing, but it has added some front page graphics and adjusted the layout a bit in a way that just feels more sophisticated.

Furthermore, Google Currents is available on more devices right from the start -- primarily thanks to a wealth of different Android devices swarming all over the market. Google Currents is available to download for free for the iPad, iPhone, and Android smartphones and tablets. By comparison, Flipboard is only available (also for free) on the iPad and the iPhone.

Now, Google Currents still has some more work to do before it can successfully topple Flipboard -- should that ever even happen.

For one, Flipboard offers way more social media integration, allowing users to curate both social and broadcast media in one place. So far, Google Currents only offers news and broadcast media options -- no Facebook or Flickr profile data just yet.

However, the two are pretty well matched when it comes to luring in new publishers as both platforms offer clients the ability to customize their web content.

As a fan of Flipboard since I bought an iPad earlier this year, it actually took me by surprise that I would enjoy Google Currents so much quite instantly. (I went into it fearing that it would look something like Google Reader before it was revamped recently.) Nevertheless, I'm not about to turn my back on Flipboard just yet.

For a closer look at Google Currents, check out the promo video below:


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