After months of speculation, Facebook will finally launch its news reader app, called Paper. Developed by Facebook Creative Labs, the service will be released at the beginning of February only for the iPhone, and surprisingly, only in America.
Paper is a news curation and reader app that pulls in stories, photos, videos and links from the user’s Facebook feed – alongside Facebook’s own notification bar and action buttons.
The new app will surface content from 19 different “sections,” including sports, tech, pop culture, and “LOL.” The service also features a “Newsfeed” section, which is the same News Feed users are accustomed to on the native apps, but with a new design. The neat app looks more minimal in comparison to the main Facebook app for iPhones or reminiscent of Flipboard.
All stories are displayed on a customizable picture-led grid, and the app has been designed to make it easier to share content with other people. Paper also gathers news stories and links, shared by your contacts, and divides them into sections to provide a customised news service.
All stories are displayed on a customizable picture-led grid, and the app has been designed to make it easier to share content with other people. Images and videos in your news feed appear full-screen with accompanying captions overlaid. At the bottom of each page are “like”, “comment” and “share” icons, but no other screen furniture is displayed.
The app also has a preview feature for users to see what their posts will look like before they are shared on Paper. Anything shared on Paper will also appear on that user’s Facebook News Feed in the native apps and on desktop.
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.”
The new app was announced after Wednesday’s earnings call, where Zuckerberg talked openly about the company’s upcoming product plans. “While the core business growth is going to come from the main app that exists,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “you should also expect us to start building a few of these other things that we will focus on over time and develop into meaningful things like Messenger and Instagram are today.”
Paper is the first app to be developed in Facebook’s Creative Labs that was set up last year. The news reader app has long been rumored, and was reportedly the pet project of Facebook’s Head of Product, Chris Cox, for years.
Facebook has experience in developing separate apps for new features, as the company has previously launched Facebook Messenger and Camera apps.
Similar to Paper, these apps linked with the original Facebook app but had their own set of features. Facebook Messenger lets people chat while using other apps, for example.
Paper will be released on February 3 through the U.S. iTunes App Store, and it appears the app is only for the iPhone at the moment.