Facebook’s philosophy of “move fast; break things” may hurt users in the short-term as they take time to get used to new interfaces and features, but it is no doubt beneficial in the long-term. On the web, Facebook basically changes up its News Feed every year, but the experience has remained largely the same on mobile for the past few years. Now, with a renewed focus on mobile, Facebook has launched Paper – stories from Facebook, a brand-new, almost revolutionary social media content consumption experience.
At its heart, Paper is nothing more than Facebook’s implementation of a Flipboard-style newsreader; what wholly separates it from its peers is its extraordinary user interface!
Each story in your News Feed is a distinct ‘card’. From a row of ‘preview’ cards, you can swipe up your selected one to read it in more detail, see all the ‘likes’ and comments, leave your own like / comment. If a video is attached, it will start playing automatically; if a link is attached, you can further swipe up on the link to ‘unfold’ it to get to the original web-page. The tasteful use of gestures and animations is simply jaw-dropping, and it is just delightful to use Paper.
Cards are categorized into ‘Sections’ for your Facebook friends, Headlines, Technology, Creators, Exposure, Ideas, Planet, Cute, LOL, and many more that you can choose to subscribe to. The first-most section is your plain-old News Feed, while the rest is curated by Facebook to bring you the latest and greatest stories. These stories are US-focused, and a little too ‘beginner-friendly’ for me, but I can see them being read feverently by the average user.
When I first heard about Paper, I automatically assumed it would be a pure content consumption app, so I felt I wouldn’t be able to use it much. However, it is important to note that this is (almost) a full-fledged Facebook app, enough to replace the official client.
You can read and reply to messages (Chat Heads-style), go through your notifications, respond to friend requests, create new status updates, and more. In my 30-40 minutes with it, I did not find anything missing. For most people, including me, this will replace the official client.
Paper is a step in the right direction for Facebook on mobile platforms. The app is available on the iPhone in the US only for now, but it is just a matter of time before it is launched on other platforms (can’t wait for this to hit the iPad), and in other countries.
Be sure to let us know what you think of Paper by leaving a comment in the comments section below.