Paper, a free app released for iOS on Monday, isn’t your typical Facebook app. It’s far more elegant, to put it bluntly, in design and interface, than other Facebook mobile efforts. There are echoes of Flipboard; but Paper is distinctive enough to stand on its own.
With Paper, your Facebook news feed becomes one of several news channels you can browse. Each story (or Facebook status update) is presented as a card. You swipe through to browse the cards in a carousel; tap to bring one to the surface and read or share; swipe down to return the card to the carousel; swipe from one channel to another; and so on.
The interface is well designed, and an intro tutorial helps you get the hang of things, though it may take you a few minutes to get acclimated. Not surprisingly, Paper makes it easy to like, comment, or share to Facebook something you read in the app.
As of today, there are almost 20 topical channels, such as Score (sports), Cute (for those cat videos you love), Exposure (for photos), Pop Life (for celebrity news), and more.
2. It’s focused.
The Paper interface is streamlined, so you can focus on the news you want. Videos play full screen on your iPhone or iPod touch, for instance.
3. It’s dynamic.
Paper brings your Facebook news feed as well as news-curated stories alive. One example: Tilting your device from side to side reveals more of the photo you’re viewing. Everything feels vibrant and dynamic compared to the more “static” experience you get with the Facebook app or desktop browser experience.
I’d love to see Paper optimized for iPad screens, and an Android version would also be welcome. Otherwise, I have no substantial criticisms of the app. It’s a worthy addition to any Facebook iOS user’s app collection. That said, Circa News (iOS and Android) and Yahoo! News Digest (iOS) still do a better job of serving up top news stories.
James A. Martin is a seasoned tech journalist and blogger based in San Francisco and winner of the 2014 ASBPE National Gold award for his CIO.com blog. He writes CIO.com's Living the Tech Life blog and is also a content marketing consultant.