Facebook is announcing a new standalone iPhone app called Paper. It’s much more than just a news-reading app — it’s a complete reimagining of Facebook itself. Once you’ve used it, you may never want to open the standard Facebook app again.
When you download Paper, you’re greeted with a reimagined interface for the News Feed. The top half of the screen shows big photos and videos, while the bottom half shows status updates and link stories. You can swipe from right to left to browse through the stories. If you tap one, it unfolds with a delightful animation to take up the full screen where videos auto-play. Pinch a story and it folds back up returning you to the Paper feed.
Paper is the first app out of Facebook Creative Labs, an initiative to let small teams within Facebook build standalone mobile experiences as if they were nimble startups. Facebook Creative Labs will carry out the strategy Mark Zuckerberg discussed on yesterday’s earnings call of conquering mobile with an array of single-purpose experiences rather than cramming more functionality into Facebook’s core app. Facebook says it won’t be heavily promoting Paper within its standard app, but it still poses a big threat to other news reader apps like Flipboard, Prismatic, Circa, and Pulse.