Facebook Paper is a standalone mobile app created by Facebook, initially only for iOS, that intends to serve as a phone-based equivalent of a newspaper or magazine. The app was announced by Facebook on January 30, 2014, and released for iOS on February 3, 2014. The iPhone app appears in the iOS App Store as "Paper – stories from Facebook"; there is no iPad version.
Along with announcing the release of Facebook Paper, Facebook also announced Facebook Creative Labs, an intra-company effort to have separate teams working on separate mobile apps that specialize in different facets related to the Facebook experience, rather than trying to make changes to Facebook's main web version, mobile version, or its main iOS and Android apps. Facebook Paper was the first product of Facebook Creative Labs.
Some of the (claimed) features of Facebook Paper, that distinguishes it from Facebook's past efforts and its other apps, are listed below:
- The use of a grid structure to have a large amount of content discoverable by scrolling without overwhelming the reader in any one display.
- The use of tilting as a separate gesture used to load high-resolution photos, play videos, and load more details of status updates. Tilting is distinguishing from finger-based scrolling, that simply goes to the next item in the grid.
- A magazine-like texture in the display.
- A mix of curation by editors and the use of social signals (including Facebook likes and shares) in deciding what content to show. Content is not limited to content from friends. However, this may not be that different from Flipboard and other news aggregation services.
Comparison with Flipboard
The following differences have been noted between Facebook Paper and Flipboard, shortly after the launch of Paper in February 2014:
- Flipboard gives more prominence to content, whereas Facebook Paper gives more prominence to social actions, such as interacting with friends and sharing with one's timeline.
- Flipboard is more of an aggregator, giving users considerable flexibility in what sources they can use to construct their own newspaper. Facebook Paper, on the other hand, is a curator—the permissible news categories and the sources within each category are chosen by Facebook, and users' main flexibility is in choosing which of Facebook's predefined sections is of interest to them.
- Facebook Paper puts discovery first, telling users what stories they need to pay attention to
- Facebook Paper only integrates with Facebook, whereas Flipboard integrates with other venues for sharing including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
- Facebook Paper is only available for the iPhone, whereas Flipboard is available for the iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone 8, BlackBerry, Kindle Fire, and Nook.
Reception of the app
Rachel Meltz, writing for Technology Review, wrote that Facebook Paper was better than Facebook's main app, and contrasted it favorably with Facebook's previous efforts at mobile such as Facebook Home. Dieter Bohn, writing for The Verge, similarly claimed that with Paper, Facebook "blew its own iPhone app out of the water." Ellis Hamburger reviewed Facebook Paper in a video review as well as an article for The Verge, calling it "the best Facebook app ever." Kyle Vanhemert reviewed the app in Wired Magazine, writing: "The most radical aspect of Paper is that it isn’t predicated entirely on your friends." Josh Constine wrote for TechCrunch: "This ain’t your mama’s Facebook. Paper is almost too modern, or maybe it’s just years ahead of its time."
Launch-day response has netted an average of four stars from approx. 2500 iOS user ratings.
Reception of the app in relation to the competition
An article by Jason Abbruzzese in Mashable noted the similarities of Facebook Paper with existing news reading and aggregation services such as Flipboard, and sought reactions from existing news reading services on whether they considered Facebook Paper a threat to their business model. Karissa Bell later wrote an article for Mashable comparing Facebook Paper and Flipboard on a number of aspects.
Discussion of the app in the context of Facebook's broader strategy
Semil Shah, writing for TechCrunch, reviewed Paper in light of Facebook's broader mobile strategy, wondering whether Paper's fate would be similar to that of the fairly successful Facebook Messenger or the highly unsuccessful Facebook Poke (Facebook's in-house Snapchat clone). Jennifer Van Grove discussed Paper and the importance of Facebook Creative Labs in Facebook's long-term strategy in an article for CNet. Lance Ulanoff, writing for Mashable, wrote that although Facebook Paper was content-focused, Facebook was still trying to distinguish itself from a media company and was focused on enabling people to create content rather than simply focused on the reading experience. Matt Buchanan wrote in The New Yorker that "Facebook's move away from the stream is part of what seems to be a shift toward flexibility and experimentation" and that "[Paper] shows that the company finally thinks that it knows us well enough to show us everything one piece a time." Inside Facebook published "10 first reactions" to Facebook Paper describing what it revealed about Facebook.
In April 2014, about 2.5 months after the release of Facebook Paper, Facebook announced that Paper users browse 80 stories a day, and also made changes that allowed people to use Facebook Paper in place of the Facebook iOS app. In late April 2014, Facebook open-sourced the animation engine that powered Facebook Paper.
- Constine, Josh (January 30, 2014). "Facebook Announces Paper, A Curated Visual News Reader Launching Feb. 3 On iOS". TechCrunch. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
- "Facebook Paper". Facebook. Retrieved February 3, 2014.
- Constine, Josh (January 30, 2014). "Facebook’s New "Creative Labs" Lets The 6,000-Employee Giant Move Fast Like A Startup". TechCrunch. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
- Stone, Brad; Frier, Sarah (January 30, 2014). "Facebook Turns 10: The Mark Zuckerberg Interview". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
- Constine, Josh (January 29, 2014). "Facebook’s Plot To Conquer Mobile: Shatter Itself Into Pieces". TechCrunch. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
- "Paper - stories from Facebook". iOS App store. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
- Vanhemert, Kyle (February 3, 2014). "With Its New App Paper, Can Facebook Overcome the Burden of Being Facebook?". Wired Magazine. Retrieved February 3, 2014.
- Meltz, Rachel (January 30, 2014). "Facebook's Paper Looks Way Better Than Its Mobile App: Facebook’s latest app may convince me to spend more time using Facebook on my iPhone.". Technology Review. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
- Abbruzzese, Jason (January 30, 2014). "Facebook's Paper Doesn't Scare Other News Apps". Mashable. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
- Constine, Josh (March 17, 2014). "Facebook Paper Does Its First Content Collaboration With Exclusives From TED". TechCrunch. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
- Bell, Karissa (February 4, 2014). "Facebook's Paper vs. Flipboard: Comparing Mobile News Apps". Mashable. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
- Bohn, Dieter (January 30, 2014). "With Paper, Facebook just blew its own iPhone app out of the water". The Verge. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
- Hamburger, Ellis (February 3, 2014). "This just in: Paper is the best Facebook app ever: With 1.25 billion users, can Facebook still think small?". The Verge. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
- Constine, Josh (February 4, 2014). "Hands On With Facebook Paper". TechCrunch. Retrieved February 14, 2014.
- Shah, Semil (February 2, 2014). "Unpacking Facebook’s Mobile Strategy: Paper, All The Mobile News That’s Fit To Print". TechCrunch. Retrieved February 3, 2014.
- Van Grove, Jennifer (February 1, 2014). "Paper and the craft of securing Facebook's future: With the new app for reading and writing the news, the social network sets a different tone for what's to come in the next decade". Retrieved February 3, 2014.
- Ulanoff, Lance (January 30, 2014). "Facebook Paper Is Content — But Don’t Call Facebook a Media Company". Mashable. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
- Buchanan, Matt (February 7, 2014). "Paper, A New Way to Look at Facebook". The New Yorker. Retrieved February 23, 2014.
- "10 first reactions to Facebook Paper". Inside Facebook. February 13, 2014. Retrieved February 23, 2014.
- Bishop, Todd (February 3, 2014). "‘Paper’ maker FiftyThree calls on Facebook to ‘stop using our brand name’". GeekWire. Retrieved February 3, 2014.
- Summers, Nick (February 3, 2014). "Paper app creator FiftyThree asks Facebook to change the name of its new standalone iPhone app". The Next Web. Retrieved February 3, 2014.
- Constine, Josh (February 3, 2014). "Facebook "Paper" May Beat Trademark Complaint As Drawing App Is Registered As "Paper By FiftyThree"". TechCrunch. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
- Crook, Jordan (February 3, 2014). "A Tale Of Two ‘Papers’". TechCrunch. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
- Opam, Kwame (February 3, 2014). "Paper app CEO asks Facebook to 'stop using our brand name'". The Verge. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
- Abbruzzese, Jason (February 4, 2014). "Facebook's Paper App Sounds a Bit Too Familiar to One Company". Mashable. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
- Constine, Josh (April 18, 2014). "Facebook Says Paper Users Browse 80 Stories A Day, Adds Features That Let It Replace FB For iOS". TechCrunch. Retrieved May 11, 2014.
- "Facebook Open-Sources The Animation Engine That Powers Its Paper App". TechCrunch. April 28, 2014. Retrieved May 11, 2014.