Facebook today revealed Paper, a standalone iOS news reader app that delivers human and algorithm-curated full-screen articles and photos. Paper launches in the U.S. today, one day before Facebook’s 10th birthday.
Unlike other Facebook mobile efforts such as Messenger and the failed Snapchat knockoff Poke – it isn’t a specialized tool. It’s Facebook — almost all of it — rethought for a small screen, explains Time.
Most of what you can do in the standard Facebook for iPhone app, you can do in Facebook Paper, but it adds a new interface with a news section organized by topic. Paper is the first app out of Facebook Creative Labs, an initiative to let small teams within Facebook build standalone mobile experiences.
The app comes with a handful of sections for topics like tech, sports, and cooking, in addition to giving you a new way to leaf through your friends updates. Algorithms and human editors will pull together a variety of content, collating stories from big-name publications and choice offerings from lesser-known blogs.
According to Wired, Paper is trying to position itself as a place you’ll go for news and inspiration–and, just as importantly, as the kind of place you’ll want to contribute to yourself.
When Facebook acquired Mike Matas’ digital publishing company Push Pop Press in 2011, it asked him to apply his skills to Facebook content. Matas designed software for the original iPhone, Nest’s trademark thermostat interface, and Al Gore’s pioneering interactive eBook Our Choice.
Push Pop’s HTML-5 heavy multimedia ebook, Our Choice ($4.99) was not just an app, but a showcase for their publishing platform. It includes an editor, a publishing and hosting service and a document format. The plan was to eventually open it out to external publishers.
Whether it will be a threat to existing news aggregators like Flipboard, Google Currents, Zite, Circa, News360, Inside and others remains to be seen. FiftyThree, the maker of a rival app, also called Paper is clearly unhappy with Facebook. Apple named FiftyThree’s Paper the Best App of the Year in 2012.
Everything from swipes to pinch-and-zooms respond instantaneously and naturally, and images load quickly. The team created a host of new gestures and ideas that will very likely inspire the next generation of interactive apps. Paper actually includes no refresh button. New content cards fly in the moment they’re posted.
Facebook is reaching 1.25 billion active users on its tenth anniversary, and bringing the ebook to life may be a one way to expand its impact.