• 04.15.11

Wanted: A Smarter Alternative To Flipboard

Taptu’s brand new iPad app brings us one step closer to the future of perfectly personalized news.

Wanted: A Smarter Alternative To Flipboard

Sure, it’s nice to have an RSS reader that looks good. And it’s even better to have one that brings in your social news. But a killer reader does something else: it pulls from new sources you wouldn’t have otherwise known existed. That’s Taptu for iPad.


The overhauled Taptu app, which hits the App Store today, does Flipboard one by giving you a powerful algorithmic search to find all kinds of sources of Web content, many of which are pre-packaged into curated lists by Taptu editors and by other users. You can then pick and choose from these “playlists” and braid them together under a given topic, so you don’t end up drowning in feeds.

Almost any news feed you imagine can be merged into a stream; in addition to lists of blogs and regular news sites, Taptu has user-curated lists of Twitter people by topic. You can add Facebook links to a stream too, allowing you follow a Facebook Page or person. If you get sick of a particular source in one of your streams, you can “unmerge” it and change the mix. Once you’ve built a good stream, you can share your curative skills with others.

Unlike other smart magazine apps like Zite, Taptu doesn’t try to learn your preferences over time. Instead, says CEO Mitch Lazar, a former journalist for CNN and one of the founders of, Taptu puts all its brainpower into algorithmically searching for sources that are relevant to whatever you explicitly say you like. The goal is for the Taptu to have zero learning curve, so there’s no time wasted getting to get know you.

In practice, Taptu’s algorithms did a reasonably good job at finding us new sources to read, and being able to punch up our Google Reader feeds with new content and specific Twitter people was a boon. Once the app is loosed upon the App Store, look for a whole lot of user-generated news “playlists” to pop up, many of which will doubtless be far better than any RSS reader you could compile yourself.

Free. Available today on the App Store.

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About the author

I've written about innovation, design, and technology for Fast Company since 2007. I was the co-founding editor of FastCoLabs.