With the release of version 1.2 last night, the team at Flipboard has one again raised the bar for social magazines on the iPad. Flipboard 1.2, not different in the design from the previous iterations but richer in content, manages to extend the platform’s capabilities beyond articles and status updates with Instagram integration. The coolest iPhone-only social network these days is now baked directly into Flipboard thanks to an API that allows you to browse photos, comment on them and like them, discover and follow users without leaving the app or jumping to Safari. Everything happens through Flipboard. Together with that, a new feature called “social search” lets you browse for any term or hashtag within an easy-to-use popup menu that aggregates content from a variety of sources like Facebook, Twitter and the aforementioned Instagram.
In an interview with Robert Scoble, Flipboard CEO Mike McCue confirms Social Search is the first example of the implementation of Ellerdale, a company Flipboard acquired last year to build a smart algorithm for aggregating and displaying relevant and personalized content. Whilst this “intelligent system” is still in the works, all the members of Ellerdale are now working at the Flipboard office and have shipped the very first feature last night, social search. It’s very cool in the way it catches tweets, photos, articles and status updates from social media, but it’s not intelligent yet. More will come in the next months, we’re sure.
McCue also gives a hint at advertising coming in future versions of Flipboard. Some fullscreen, elegant banners have already been implemented in the Flipboard-formatted version of SF Gate, and he says they’re indeed targeting for this kind of ads: beautiful photography, fast and lightweight. The opportunity for publishers to team up with Flipboard (like SF Gate) and set up iPad-optimized versions of their articles is also something McCue is heavily betting on. Last night, Flipboard rolled out integration with Wired and Pictory, too.
Last, Flipboard is going to take advantage of the iPad 2′s improved hardware with the possibility to create more than two pages in the main screen — currently a limitation of the iPad 1 hardware and memory constraints. With the iPad 2 coming out tomorrow, we can’t wait to see how Flipboard will benefit from faster processor, graphics and more RAM. As for the competition and all the tablets coming out this year, McCue says they’re just going to wait and see.