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Paper: It's the best way to use Facebook

Caitlin McGarry | Feb. 5, 2014
Facebook gave itself a much-needed makeover for its 10th birthday , but you won't see a change unless you know where to look. The overhaul is part of Paper, a stand-alone iOS app that's part News Feed, part newsreader.

A Facebook replacement
After I installed Paper, I decided to use it instead of the Facebook app that's been on my iPhone's home screen for years. What would it be like to check Paper in the morning every day instead of Facebook?

Answer: It's better. It's unclear if Facebook changed the News Feed algorithms to jibe with Paper's news emphasis, but I'm seeing more articles, more photos, more interesting updates from my friends instead of the Candy Crush scores, Bitstrips, and general crap I see in my regular Facebook feed.

Unlike Facebook's main app, which lets you scroll up and down to see chronological updates, Paper employs a range of gestures. You can pull tiles from the bottom scroll to read updates full-screen. If it's a news story, flip the card open to read the piece in-app. The effect, which is like unfolding a newspaper page, is subtle but sweet. Swipe down on any story you're reading to throw it away.

Facebook is reportedly filling each section of Paper with articles curated by human editors, which could be true. The stories come from a mixture of mainstream publishers (The New York Times, Wired, The Atlantic), popular bloggers, and Facebook pages or Instagram posts with high engagement. The Headlines section is sourced from the usual suspects mentioned above, but when you delve into Cute, Flavor, and Glow, the content is more relaxed and fun. Sharing a link you read in Paper back to your Timeline is easier than ever before, with options to instantly reshare, share in a new post, or save an image to your camera roll.

Creating a post in Paper is as simple as penning an update in Facebook proper, but there's more room to write — conceivably so you feel inspired by the blank slate rather than restricted to a small box.

On top of Paper's litany of positive attributes, there's another small plus: The app doesn't have ads (yet). That's a compelling enough reason to make the switch.

Bottom line
If you're already using a social newsreader, Paper probably isn't what you're looking for. It's not as full-featured as Flipboard, doesn't have the bite-sized appeal of Circa, or do the heavy lifting of an RSS reader like Feedly. But if you want a more sophisticated Facebook feed with a side of news, Paper is miles beyond the core Facebook app — and Facebook wanted it that way.

 

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