Paper: Facebook’s Awesome New Media App

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Facebook just launched a new app (in the United States only) called ‘Paper‘– a newsreader and aggregator rolled into one. I was able to download it in Malaysia through my U.S. iTunes account, and it’s a very intriguing app.

Facebook Paper is the first offering from the Facebook Creative Labs, which is an initiative from Facebook to encourage its developers to build stand-alone apps. As of now, the new app is available only on iOS, but seeing that a large number of Facebook patrons use Android phones, Facebook might soon come out with an Android version of the app also. The Facebook Creative Labs team that created the app might already be working on it as we speak.


Features of Facebook Paper

Facebook Paper has an immersive design with a full-screen, minimalist interface. If you’re the type of person who uses Facebook to stay in touch with a lot of online media sources, then you’ll love this app.  The Facebook Paper interface contains ‘stories’ in themed ‘sections‘, which you can intuitively navigate . You have to sign into the app to use it because the first ‘section’ is the Facebook News Feed (from a user’s account).

The app allows you to customize ‘sections’ by choosing from a handful of options, which include:

  • Your Facebook Newsfeed
  • Headlines
  • Tech
  • Enterprise
  • Creators
  • Pop Life
  • Score (meaning, Sports)
  • Flavor
  • Exposure
  • Ideas
  • Equalize
  • Planet
  • Well Lived
  • Family Matters
  • Cute
  • LOL
  • Glow
  • Home
  • Pride

Each of these  sections contains content from famous publications and emerging voices on blogs and other media.

In addition to these sections, you can also directly interact with the stories in a section: share a post, write a comment, click like and more. You can also use the app to accept friend requests, send messages, read notifications and create posts.

The app also has some other clever tidbits. For example, if you’re viewing an image that is wider than the width of your phone, you can tilt your phone left and right, which will then show the unrevealed parts of the image.  Below is an example of three iPhone screenshots taken at different angles of tilting the iPhone on one story.



Facebook moving towards standalone apps

In a recent earnings call, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook was planning to create more standalone apps (single purpose apps), like Facebook Paper, rather than cramming more features into the core Facebook app.

The Paper team at Facebook Creative Labs spent more than a year working on the app and by all parameters, they have done a good job. But the concept is not original, and it definitely makes you think of the Flipboard app. There are already many other news reader/aggregator apps, such as Prismatic, Circa, and Pulse. Only time will tell whether Facebook Paper will put up a stiff fight against these competitors.

Malaysian residents will have to wait a bit longer to get their hands on the app because, as of now, it is available only in the US. Perhaps, Facebook is testing the waters, which explains its decision to also only launch the app on the Apple iOS smartphone platform.


Read more about: Apps in Malaysia


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Ben Hock Seng

This is a cool app – one thing I think they need to improve though is the load time when you click through to an article. It’s load time is almost at a point where I’m sometimes hesitant to click through to the article.

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