Clipboard is a new iOS app by Clipboard Inc. It’s designed as a companion app to Clipboard.com’s Web service, which allows users to quickly and easily copy, paste and share content from across the Internet as they see fit.
Clipboard’s primary function is as a straightforward clipping tool for saving content. By simply copying anything into the iOS internal clipboard, firing up the Clipboard app and tapping the “new clip” button in the corner of the screen, it’s possible to save clips as HTML, bookmarks to specific websites or plain text, which is represented as a quote. Every clip saved can have a title and a description, and the description may include Twitter-style @mentions of other users and hashtags. Unlike many other services, though, hashtags are used on a per-user basis — using a hashtag in a description automatically creates a “board” of related content where the user can easily filter specific things that they have clipped.
Social features come into play if the user decides to make any or all of their posts publicly-viewable. An “Explore” tab allows the user to follow “featured” users or Facebook friends who are also using the service, and a “Hot” posts section shows which public clips have proven popular recently. There’s also the means to filter posts by category, and this generally seems to do a good job of automatically filtering content.
Users may also search for specific content either in their own homepage (which includes their own content and that of anyone they follow), their mentions list, public posts or specific people. The search function is situated in the slide-out menu from which the app’s other functions are accessed rather than the Explore tab, so it is easily missed, but it is present and seems to work well.
When viewing others’ posts it’s possible to like, “reclip,” view the original source or leave a comment. If the user has included hashtags in their description, tapping on one of them enables others to view their boards, allowing for the easy curation and organization of content — though this does, of course, assume a degree of self-discipline on the user’s part. On the small screen of the iPhone, the interface is a little fiddly — the various buttons are very small and easily mis-tapped, while the hashtags similarly require a precise tap to follow. It looks neat, for sure, but it would probably benefit from bigger buttons and/or a larger font size for those users with large fingers.
The social features are probably the least useful part of Clipboard, however. Where the app shines is in how easy it is to copy and save content from the Web — that and its simple, elegant and adaptive interface, which slides obtrusive title and toolbars aside when the user is obviously browsing through content.
The only thing that would make the whole process easier would be either a Safari bookmarklet or an addition to the iOS “Open With” menu, though the latter’s behavior is far from standardized between apps at present anyway, and in many cases is not used at all. The lack of these features is a small price to pay, however, as if the Clipboard app is placed in an easily-accessible homescreen location, it’s quick and simple to copy, switch apps, paste into Clipboard and be ready to go. With the addition of the simple, logical use of hashtags to organize personal content, it becomes a powerful tool particularly useful for those who want to collect a variety of material for later review.