The sound of change? Flipboard integrates audio

The mobile newsreader app Flipboard announced this week that it is partnering with SoundCloud, NPR and PRI in order to fully integrate audio content into its app. The new feature will allow Flipboard users to listen to music and radio content while flipping through articles. 

The BBC points out that Flipboard is the first mobile reading app of its kind to integrate audio in this way. Although other social readers such as Pulse and Zite may include some links to audio elements, Flipboard is the first to make audio content an integral part of its product.

As the company explains in its press release, the new feature allows users to explore audio content, select tracks and listen to them, then continue to flip through text stories. Audio tracks are sorted into sections, and the app will continue to play though all the tracks in the same category as users read articles. “With this latest addition, we’re giving our readers a personal soundtrack to their Flipboard,” says the company’s founder Mike McCue.

The BBC writes that Flipboard is hoping its new audio content will help boost ad revenue. “Adding audio is an attempt at reeling in users and keeping them around longer in a bid, ultimately, to attract brand advertising,” the article says.

But aside from these financial considerations, the new features also can be seen as a simple acknowledgement that, in the digital age, the boundaries between different kinds of media are increasingly blurred. ITV’s new website, which integrates video, text and social media content into a single stream, is one good example.

In this new environment, audio content can be an increasingly important feature for traditional print outlets. The Economist, which makes all its stories available in audio format and the Guardian, which has produced the most popular podcast on the UK iTunes store this week, are two examples of print publications using audio effectively.

For news organisations interested in integrating audio features into their multimedia stories, Poynter has published 10 tips about how this can be done.



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