Paper, a Facebook App for iOS

It has been a week since Facebook’s newest app, ‘Paper’ has been out. I read all the reviews which claimed Paper as the best Facebook app, ever. Honestly, I disagree. I want to like it. I really do. Even though all the over tech reviewers are quick to praise it and call it the best thing since Mark Zuckerberg registered Facebook’s .com into the webosphere, it’s more or less nothing truly inventive, in my humble opinion. In fact, playing around with it reminded me more of Flipboard which has already mastered what Facebook is attempting with Paper. Will I keep using it? For now as an alternative. But I still find myself first opening my Facebook app over Paper.

Wired’s Roberto Baldwin writes:

Facebook’s new Paper app is the best excuse yet to ditch the social network’s older offering. But while the re-imagined mobile experience adds beautiful fullscreen images and new, intuitive swipes to the mix, it also comes with a few limitations. So before you banish that blue and white standby to the netherworld of discarded apps, you probably want to make a few quick changes. The first thing to note about Paper is that you can’t actually switch your feed to the more real-time “Most Recent” setting found in other Facebook apps and the site. Also, if you manage a Page for your company, band, or cause, you can’t post as that entity on your Page’s newsfeed.

The Verge writes:

Paper’s Facebook feed is just a better-looking, more responsive version of what you’ll find inside the company’s main app. Every other section is a mix of recent and popular posts from the profile pages of Facebook’s favorite publishers, curated by a small (and powerful) editorial team within the company. In Headlines, for example, you’ll find posts from Time, the AP, The New York Times, Politico, and NPR. In Cute, you’ll find a range of more curated posts from the likes of Grumpy Cat, Laughing Squid, and Zooey Deschanel’s site HelloGiggles.

TechCrunch writes:

You miss great content because you aren’t subscribed to the right sources. So Facebook wants to bring you content serendipity with Paper, a standalone iOS news reader app it revealed today that delivers human and algorithm-curated full-screen articles and photos in categories you select like Tech, LOL, and Pop Culture. Paper launches to everyone in the U.S. on February 3rd, the day before Facebook’s 10th birthday. Paper is the first app out of Facebook Creative Labs, an initiative to let small teams within Facebook build standalone mobile experiences as if they were nimble startups. Facebook Creative Labs will carry out the strategy Mark Zuckerberg discussed on yesterday’s earnings call of conquering mobile with an array of single-purpose experiences rather than cramming more functionality into Facebook’s core app. [Check out our profile of Facebook’s standalone app initiative: “Facebook’s New ‘Creative Labs’ Lets The 6,000-Employee Giant Move Fast Like A Startup”]

Even the Washington Post gets in on the conversation:

Facebook celebrated its 10th anniversary last week and, to mark the milestone, also released this app. Not to be confused with the iPad drawing app by FiftyThree, also called Paper, Facebook’s iPhone app is a reimagining of the news feed. Its clean design showcases interesting stories from your friends and also lets you add in featured stories on topics of interest. Food buffs, for example, can add stories from the “Flavor” section. Sports fans can get updates from journalists and athletes in the “Score” category. It’s not an app for catching up on general news, but certainly one that will keep you updated on your friends.

Stories are well presented: They’re easy to read, clean and simple to navigate with a few swipes. It’s even tempting to say Paper could supplant Facebook’s normal app. The only notable limitation I found is that you can’t sort through the feed by friend group, a feature that most Facebook users probably don’t use regularly. But you can post, get notifications and even access your account settings through Paper. It’s also ad-free, for now. Of course, Facebook would do well to add support for Android devices, and soon.


In order to stay up to date on comments, posts, and other items that happen on Facebook, you’ll need turn on notifications. From any of the main topic screens (Facebook, or any of the Sections you’ve chosen), swipe down. You’ll see the Settings area at the bottom of the display. The first item at the top of the Settings is “Facebook Notifications.” Turn it on. Now your notifications will come from Paper instead of the Facebook app.

Turn Off Auto-Play

While you’re in the settings area let’s also turn off auto-play videos. Auto-play videos is on by default. Unless you like seeing videos playing while you’re navigating your newsfeed, turn it off.

Read Later

Before you leave settings, there’s one more thing you should turn on. Paper gives you the option to read articles later via a variety of services. Paper works with Pocket, Instapaper, Pinboard, and Safari Reading List. If you use any of these services, log in and start saving items to enjoy those longer reads at a time of your choosing.

To exit settings from any preference, just swipe up to return to the main Facebook section.

Quickly Edit Sections

Maybe you’ve decided that your Facebook experience needs more cute. To can add the “Cute Section” by heading back to Settings then tapping “Edit Sections.” Alternately, you can quickly jump to the “Customize Your Paper Section” editor by tapping and holding the large top image of any Section. The Section editor will appear like magic. Now you can drag your Sections around and add or remove them willy-nilly based on your mood that day. Tap on Done when you are finished to return to the main Paper screen.

Facebook Paper is the company thinking beyond the traditional top-to-bottom feed. While it’s not perfect, it is a big step in the right direction in mobile design. Now that you’ve optimized the app, it’s time to say goodbye to the regular Facebook app. Don’t be surprised if in the a few months, Facebook does the same thing.

The argument is compelling for Paper’s inclusion into the app world. But is it necessary. Probably not. But one has to hand it to Facebook futile attempt to remain relevant. Zuckerberg’s greatest fear is for his baby to become a passing fad like Myspace. However, I cannot completely dismiss it. I have enjoyed using it during my commute. The novel cards are fun to grab news stories. But again, is it better? No. Is it different? Sort of. But it offers an alternative. And perhaps that is more important. Alternatives and choices are extremely important. More choices benefit the consumer as they benefit the innovator. The app is currently for Free on the Apple App store.

Originally published at on February 9, 2014.

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