Facebook becomes a Storyteller...[updated]

How Paper will be the new center of your Facebook

by Dirk Moeller

Facebook introduced their new app "Paper" today.

Sorry folks in the rest of the world, but so far it's US only. Sorry Android users, it's iOS only. For now, of course, on both accounts, but it is limited so far.

So, what is "Paper"? It is a feedreader, which takes your Facebook experience and mixes it up with other content and news streams. Basically Flipboard without the freedom to choose your sources - at least at first glance.

Your Facebook "stream" is mandatory, but all other types of news are chosen through cards that are being dragged up.

Your Facebook "stream" is mandatory, but all other types of news are chosen through cards that are being dragged up.

There are, of course, the typical "News" like Sports.

There are, of course, the typical "News" like Sports.

But besides the mainstream topics, there are also sections that mirror more lifestyle situations and topics, like "All City".

But besides the mainstream topics, there are also sections that mirror more lifestyle situations and topics, like "All City".

And of course there is sections like "cute" and "LOL".

And of course there is sections like "cute" and "LOL".

Finally, important topics like "Pride" and "Equality" are also available.

Finally, important topics like "Pride" and "Equality" are also available.

You choose the complete "section" (which is basically a category), but not the sources that are featured within it - that is for Facebook to decide (and cash in on).

Once  you chose your bouquet of news, you're ready to go. This is what it looks like in a section:

The "News" look a bit dull...

The "News" look a bit dull...

Photos look a lot better, but they are always in portrait orientation, which takes away from their impact.

Photos look a lot better, but they are always in portrait orientation, which takes away from their impact.

The "articles" in every section are displayed in the lower half and can be scrolled by swiping. 

The sections are scrolled by swiping the large section header in the upper half of every section. As you can see, there is only so much you can see at a first glance when swiping through sections. I foresee a revenue model here - after all, those two and a half placements will be worth a pot of gold ;)

So, what does your Facebook look like in a section? Quite boring, if you don't use images. That was already a truth in every existing Facebook client, but it holds true here even more. 

It also appears to me that the upper half is exactly the size of a squared instagram photo - if that is really the case, kudos to clever integration of your services, Facebook. 

Short, Twitter like messages have a hard time competing with the new layout.

Short, Twitter like messages have a hard time competing with the new layout.

The use of photos makes it so much better.

The use of photos makes it so much better.

If you have any questions regarding the app, just let me know - I will try to answer them as soon as possible.

Update 12:05

The images in the upper half are a slideshow and changed every couple of seconds, same with the articles in the sections. There are only articles with an image displayed up there, so if you want to appear there, you MUST have an image.

Update 17:00

The navigational concept is a as follows:

  • clicking on a large image in the upper half, a swipe left or right brings you back to overview, so does swiping down
  • clicking on content in the lower half, a swipe left/right brings you to the previous/next item in your stream (quite nice to browse) - swiping down brings you back
  • on a webpage opened within facebook from a post, swiping down brings you back

Which means that swiping down basically brings you back from whereever you are.

Images in landscape orientation are opened in portrait view - but you can scroll/view the whole thing by tilting your phone left/right.