Just tried out the new Paper app from Facebook. Blown away by its design and interface. I think I might finally start following my Facebook newsfeed again.
The cool thing about the Paper app is that it gives your Facebook stories equal footing as other stories. Previously I used to use Flipboard, Google+, or Twitter to follow stories while Facebook was just for following news and pics from my friends. This usually led to the Facebook app being rarely opened as general news was more important to me than friends news. Moreover the linear interface while fine wasn’t conducive for the media rich content that my friends were sharing.
The Paper app changes all that. It lets you subscribe to various categories (called Headlines) such as Tech, Pop Culture, etc and also shows your Facebook feed as another category (the first in fact). Moreover, the stories are shown in a Flipboard style interface – both layout and gestures – and that’s very good for quickly flipping through all the stories (news as well as friend updates). Now I don’t have to choose between these two. One app let’s me read both, share to Facebook easily, and even save to apps like Instapaper and Pocket for reading later.
I think the cool realisation that Facebook struck upon here is that rather than having an app that was solely about reading and posting to Facebook, it made an app that is just about ensuring users spend their time in that app. As a side effect of that users automatically end up spending time on their Facebook feeds too. And based on the stories users read, like, and share – which they might not have done otherwise if they were reading the stories in another app – Facebook is able to capture all these signals about its users. Which is all the more useful to Facebook.