POSTED: Thursday, August 16, 2012 - 1:00am
UPDATED: Thursday, August 16, 2012 - 1:04am
ENTERTAINMENT NEWS (CNN) — A week after dropping its invite-only requirement and letting the masses sign up for accounts, social-bookmarking service Pinterest has made another expansion, this time to Android devices and the iPad.
Pinterest is a visual bookmarking tool for collecting and organizing content you find online by theme, such as women's hats, cake recipes, cat photos or motorcycles. Users mark, or "pin," sites they like and make carefully crafted collections that other people can view and share.
Since it launched last year, Pinterest has only been available on the Web and through its popular iPhone app. As the company rolled out new features and expanded into additional languages, it has heard one request back from users: Make an Android app.
On Tuesday, the company announced three new Pinterest apps, starting with its first Android offering. The engineers at Pinterest built the free Android app from the ground up and optimized it to work on the large range of available Android tablet and smartphone devices. No matter what size device you use, the app's design is the familiar cascade of tiled images. The app is available in the Google Play store and is expected to be in the Android Appstore later this week for Kindle Fire owners.
The iPad also got its own Pinterest app, a speedy experience with some nice new user interface touches. Swiping to one side brings up the list of categories, the other direction flips through the layers of pins you've opened. There's an embedded browser in the iPad version of the app. Double clicking on a product such as a pair of shoes will take you to the brand's site within the Pinterest app, and you can then see what other product users have pinned from the same company.
"It's a really different kind of browsing experience," said Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp, who told the story of first seeing Steve Jobs demo the iPad while reclining in a chair. "It was really amazing because he was using that device exactly how we thought Pinterest would be used sometime in the future."
The Pinterest iPhone app got a refresh, which Sharp said will increase stability and speed. It has an updated design that lets you view two columns of pins.
The company announced the mobile news at a gathering in its new San Francisco office space. The summer-themed event featured paper lanterns, finger sandwiches and stations inspired by popular Pinterest topics -- a polaroid photo booth with mustache props, DIY postcards, temporary tattoos and a design-your-own terrarium table with the ultimate Pinterest staple, mason jars. The event was one bluegrass band short of being the ultimate hipster wedding.
An in-person announcement is a departure for Pinterest, which typically rolls out features slowly and announces them on its blog. However, the shift to mobile and the gathering of people tied into its newest theme: using Pinterest to do more in the real world.
"Our goal is to actually get you offline, to get you to go out," said Pinterest co-founder and CEO Ben Silbermann, citing the large amount of do-it-yourself actionable content people pin on Pinterest.
The site's growth has leveled off in recent months after its meteoritic rise from 1.03 million unique monthly users in the United States in August 2011 to 17.8 million in February. In July, Pinterest had 23.3 million unique users in the United States, according to research firm comScore.
That number is likely to jump again as Pinterest reaches for new audiences with its anyone-is-welcome phase and trio of mobile apps.