Paper may not be a total Facebook replacement yet. But it does have the potential to change the way you interact with Facebook as a whole. In other words, it's everything that Facebook Home wasn't. And that's a great thing.
What Is It?
Facebook's new, standalone app that places your timeline and everything in it alongside sets of carefully curated news articles. It's a design-centric, highly intuitive reader that makes your friend's mindless status updates look just as beautiful as the professional think piece lying just a single swipe away.
Who's It For?
Light Facebook users. Twitter converts who have left Facebook behind in favor of fast-paced news. The ever-elusive Facebook-hating teens with short attention spans.
Why Does It Matter?
If Facebook Home was Facebook's failed attempt at forcing its way to the center of your mobile life, Paper is the realization of everything Home couldn't be. The main Facebook app serves as a purely egocentric source of information for most people. You go there to see what your friends from college are up to, whether anyone cared enough to give you a poke, if any pictures need de-tagging, etc. If you happen to run across a tantalizing article from a third-party website in the process, so be it. You'll click, but hardly anyone goes to Facebook to get caught up on world news. That's what Twitter's for.
Paper shifts that emphasis. When you open it, you'll get caught up on your timeline, yes, but you'll also get to check out what's happening in the general categories you and your friends care about most. Because Facebook isn't the one curating the content; it's all populated with the most popular stories on Facebook. If people like it, you will see it. Simple.
Design & Using It
And that's as much control as you'll ever get over what Paper shows you.
This thing is beautiful. It's easy to use and, most surprisingly, it works. There's no pull-to-refresh; you don't need it. New cards fly into line as soon as they're posted, and you don't have to lift a finger. Plus, it really does make your timeline something actually enjoyable to behold, Facebook's prime challenge since its inception. Facebook is fun again. Maybe that's just the novelty of the new design, but it's more than we've been able to say about any of Facebook's (often failed) attempts at standalone apps yet.
If this is really meant to change the way you use Facebook, Paper in its current form had better be just a taste. As it stands now, there's no ability to manage and edit your friend lists, events, or groups. And let's face it, the convenience of events and groups is a lot of what's kept Facebook a necessity for most of its users. There's just no other network that lets you have that kind of access to almost everyone you know en masse. And Paper totally discounts that.
Granted, the app is only in its first iteration, and there is ample room for growth. Plus, it makes sense that Facebook would want its user base to get acquainted with the wildly new way of consuming posts before flooding it with the boatloads of other features that make Facebook what it is.
Should You Download It?
If you have the space (and an iPhone), why not—its free! Will it be a fleeting novelty that you slowly forget about as you continue using the older yet more functional Facebook app? Maybe. But if Facebook starting piling its many features onto Paper—as we hope it will—you might finally be able to kiss the Facebook as we know it goodbye once and for all in favor of the much prettier Paper. [iTunes]