Facebook takes on Flipboard with ‘Paper’ social news app

31/01/2014

Facebook has launched ‘Paper’, a news curation app that pulls in news stories, photos and videos from the users' news feed, as the network continues its drive to become the first destination for social news for mobile users . Watch this video showing how the Facebook Paper app works below:

Introducing Paper from Facebook on Vimeo.

As well as offering magazine-style updates from their friends, the picture-heavy app lets users read global and local news articles by browsing content from partner publications.

This puts Facebook in direct competition with news curation apps such as Flipboard and Google Currents.

Paper is set to launch in the U.S. on 3 February, initially on Apple's iOS. Facebook has not said if it is working on an Android or Windows version.

paper.jpg

Each section has a main screen with a cover photo at the top, and a row of content along the bottom. Users can scroll left and right from the main screen through these content cards to see new stories, photos, videos, and so on. Alternatively, users can select a story to see it in full screen mode.

The traditional Facebook notification bar is shown in the top right-hand corner of the screen - including friend requests, messages and other notifications.

Facebook product designer Mike Matas, speaking to The Verge, said: "You really want people to spend a little bit of time with it and appreciate that content. Almost like when you go to a museum and you spend a little bit of time with each thing."

However, unlike other news reader and RSS apps, Facebook Paper will not let people add their own links.

Paper is the first app to be developed in Facebook's Creative Labs that was set up last year.

Rivalry with Flipboard

Flipboard has become a very popular news and social aggregator that presents stories in a magazine-style layout that flips between stories with swiping gestures- and Facebook looks keen to replicate the app's success.

flipboard%20facebook.jpg

Flipboard also pulls content from news sources and entertainment sites, as well as Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. Aiming for 150 million users by the end of 2014, Flipboard had about 85 million users in September 2013 with 6 million users added within a month of the launch of version 2.0 of the application. The company was valued at $800m (£485m) by a $50m funding round in September.

For Facebook, Paper is offering a slicker version of its often cluttered news feed, which acts as the main interaction point for most people on the social network. Every story appears in a “distraction-free” full-screen layout with captions and comments overlaid on images or video, the larger ones of which can be panned around by simply tilting the iPhone.

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