Facebook unveiled its latest standalone iPhone App, Paper, on Feb. 3. This is the first product to come out of Facebook Creative Labs, a section of the company given the job to “innovate and build new things.” The app is an entirely new way to look at Facebook as a user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing experience.
The inspiration behind the new look is to make Facebook “the best personalized newspaper” Mark Zuckerberg imagines it to be, with the look of your favorite, well-designed glossy magazines – a long-standing goal for the Facebook founder. Each page has a large cover photo above a series of small cards displaying the statuses, photos, links and shares of your Facebook friends. These cards can be scrolled through and clicked on to view in a larger size.
Gone are the busy rows of status updates and photo albums. In their place are clean, horizontal-scrolling, carefully collected updates and an absence of navigation bars or on-screen buttons. The one caveat with the streamlined design is the learning curve when it comes to the gestures and swipes that navigate the app. However, Paper provides helpful reminders during your first few uses to aid in getting around until you have the hang of it yourself.
Along with the lack of unnecessary buttons and tabs, the app is also currently ad-free. However, it poses the opportunity for advertisers to create visually enriched ads that integrate more successfully into Facebook’s feed on Paper. Whereas the regular News Feed is accompanied with distracting ads within it or running along the side, there’s a chance here for incorporation into Paper the app that will likely resonate better and be far less of a nuisance for users.
In addition to highlighting the visuals of your friends’ Facebook posts, Paper includes updates from outside news sources in the form of different pages you can add to your home screen. With available topics ranging from “news” to “tech” to “cute,” Paper allows you to switch seamlessly between photos of your best friends’ wedding, a Businessweek article about Microsoft’s new CEO or a video of a teacup pig. These outside source links also provide an opportunity for advertisers to integrate their content into the app in a non-invasive but effective manner.
Along with outside sources, Facebook will include the best user posts they find as a way to share actual Facebook content with people who may not be friends on the site. This will ideally contribute to the frame of mind Facebook is trying to emphasize: that it is not only a place to post your current thoughts, but also a place to curate beautiful photos, inspirational words and important updates. While your Paper app may currently show off beautifully organized blurry photos of your friends out to dinner and misspelled statuses about celebrities, it will hopefully contain more thought-out posts that are in line with the app’s aesthetic and message as it gains more users.
Though Facebook has explained that it does not intend for Paper to replace the original mobile app, but rather work alongside it like Instagram or Messenger, Paper definitely has the potential to take center stage. With its cleaner aesthetics, inclusion of outside news and celebration of user content, Paper is looking to be a much more attractive way of viewing your Facebook News Feed.
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