Facebook unveils standalone mobile app ‘paper’

Today Facebook sneaked out another potential game-changer. Their internal security really is commendable. 

It seems that Zuckerburg has finally achieved his vision of Facebook becoming a ‘digital newspaper’. Well kind of…but he’s had to build a separate stand alone app to achieve it.

‘Paper’ launches on the 3rd February in the US for iPhone. Paper is a news-consumption app akin to existing options like Flipboard, Feedly and Zite which presents longer-form Facebook content in a more attractive, magazine-style way that will encourage users to linger over posts, stories and images.

The first section of the new app will be your Facebook News Feed. It won’t have all the functions of the native Facebook app, but it will present your friends’ posts, along with stories from other news categories.

The cool and main differentiating feature is that you can finally customise SOMETHING on Facebook (compared to other platforms actual control over the FB platform is low from a users POV) You can choose to pull in categories: photography and sports to food, science and design etc

Another difference is no buttons, just swiping.

“Paper makes storytelling more beautiful with an immersive design and fullscreen, distraction-free layouts,” said the social media giant.

Does distraction mean ad-free I wonder?! Undoubtedly the app will launch ad free and remain so for a while whilst download numbers are going to be critical. Ultimately though  it could turn into another platform for FB to advertise on and offer more inventory to advertisers and more $ to investors. They have repeatedly been criticised for failing to monetize the mobile trend, so this is definitely one big step on their journey.

Only time will tell how consumers will react. Will users be willing to split their time across 2 apps and find different utility for both? From historical learnings from their attempts at ‘camera’ and ‘home’, I think not. Personally I think they should have spent the time and money improving the current application, but maybe this is their plan?

The current reviews of paper point to its superiority over the current app. A cleaner, richer and simpler experience. So maybe this is designed as a replacement, but for the more early adopters – we all saw the backlash when timeline was brought in due to people’s inability to accept change.

Mobile is an even more personal experience so maybe they’re taking their time, testing on a wider scale and making sure change is overtime and tolerable to users before binning the current app.

Check out the typical Facebook X-factor styled ‘pull on your heart strings’ video here: https://www.facebook.com/paper

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