Facebook's Paper App Is Stylish and Interesting, but Has Critical Flaws
For years, Facebook's mobile development has been oddly haphazard. From the painfully inconsistent upgrades to its flagship app to the random release of various apps for an array of different needs (Pages, Photos, etc), it has felt more like the mobile team at FB was divided up into about 20 different divisions all operating with complete autonomy. Most recently, they came up with Paper, a stylish new app designed to leverage shared links and provide a more news-based interface for the social network. Even the name echoes the idea that this is like reading a newspaper, not a social media website.
A cool concept, but not a replacement for the standard Facebook app.
The first and most obvious change with Paper over the traditional Facebook app is how it looks. Built to take advantage of upgrades in iOS 7 (this is only available for iPhone currently), it has a modern look and feel with a smooth workflow. The main screen serves as a cooler looking Timeline with updates split between a lower series of panels that look like flash cards and a larger space above that has more graphic content. Like most apps, you swipe through the spaces to see various updates and touch them to get more info.
There is even a way to store items for later, a particularly handy function for when you just want to flip through updates without having to browse content in long form at the moment.
It also has some of the basic Facebook features like notifications, messages and viewing profile pages. You can make status updates as well and share items with friends. The game changer -- at least for some -- is how it handles trending topics.
If you haven't been paying attention, Facebook has gotten into the trending topics game. Much like Twitter, Facebook now shows its trending items in the right column of the website through the browser interface. And, much like Twitter, it is able to be broken down by category. Paper takes advantage of that by allowing users to create categories of news and updates like sports or music. Think of it as Facebook's answer to Twitter's "lists" but instead of following users, you are following topics.
From an information gathering standpoint, it's rather unique because it shows what people are interested in at any given moment in a number of different categories. It is a quick and easy way to check the "news" of the day.
All of this has led some to abandon the original Facebook app for Paper. But, there are some issue with Paper that should not be ignored.