Facebook Paper is a USA only app and was released last week. It has two main components, part a total revision of the core Facebook experience and a news app. Today, Good e-Reader checks out what this app is all about and gives you a sense on whether or not it is a good install.
Every time Facebook initiates a design change on their main website, it often polarises the community. Some herald each change with advancement in the platform, but the vast majority just complains about it. Facebook Paper gives a 2014 upgrade to the core experience and is exclusively optimized for the iPhone.
Status updates, pictures, video are the core aspects that makes Facebook stand out in the crowd. The company has revised their approach into the popular “cards” interface. Each card is the same size and all of your friends activity are listed there. If you click on one, you get the full screen view, such as an article they posted. You can then gesture to the right to automatically scroll to the next story.
The interface takes a bit getting used to. There is seldom any pinching and zooming features, and no navigation keys. Instead, if you long-press the top of the screen and drag your finger down, you will get some options, such as Create Post, Edit Sections, and Settings.
The main draw of Paper is the news functionality. It follows the popular curated aspect of news, with Facebook selecting popular news outlets and featuring their top stories. Other news journalists draw parallels with Flipboard or Pulse, but really Facebook is more akin to the new Yahoo News App. The curation aspect gives you simple, yet essential stories. If you like technology, they tend to give you Verge, Engadget, or Re/Code. There is no way to add in a custom feed or input your own list of websites.
One of the big problems with Facebook Paper is when you don’t use it for a day or two. When you fire up the app the cards initially load up the old data, but then scroll super fast from where you were, to the latest updates. It is a very jarring experience and one of the current downfalls of the app, but it should hopefully be fixed soon.
I have no problem with news curation, giving you a fixed list of stories from various genres. The main problem, is most of the news outlets are owned by various interests. Engadget is owned by AOL, Re/Code partnered with CNBC. You will seldom get a pure independent news outlet giving you riveting or compelling opinions.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.