The first mention of a social news app from Google came in a Google+ post yesterday by tech watcher Robert Scoble. He wrote:

I heard from someone working with Google that Google is working on a Flipboard competitor for both Android and iPad. My source says that the versions he’s seen so far are mind-blowing good.¬†

The news prompted AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher to dig for more clues. The service is code-named Propeller, Swisher learned:

Google is indeed working on rolling out the new product, which is currently called Propeller. Sources said Propeller is apparently one of a number of new socially focused announcements Google is prepping, including new apps.

The app should launch in the near future¬†because Facebook is also unveiling a social publishing platform of its own next week. It was not immediately clear at the time of this writing how Propeller ties with Google+, if at all. Given the company’s strong social focus and the fact that Propeller is being described as a social news app, it would seem logical to incorporate at least Google+ sharing features.

9to5Google learned from people familiar with the project that Propeller will boast a prettified interface, as is a norm with its high-end rivals Flipboard and Pulse. Publishers will be able to package their content for distribution right within their web browser, using a dedicated web app. Layout options are said to include multiple layouts to target various tablet and phone brands, including iPhone and iPad. Navigation capabilities will include individual articles, table of contents, as well as browsing custom-made sections that curate multiple articles. Images, video and other rich media types are also at disposal.

Publishers will also be able to…

…inject AdSense ad units into Propeller editions of their publications and collect user and usage info via email and Google Analytics, respectively. Sources told 9to5Google that publishers could even be able to sell individual articles to readers for a small fee, collected via the Google Checkout mechanism. Such a tight integration between Google’s payment, analytics and advertising services and publishers’ content should allow for rich monetization options and greater flexibility and engagement from readers.