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Paper – stories from Facebook on the App Store (itunes.apple.com)
91 points by wdaareg on Feb 3, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 83 comments



I tried it and found no redeeming qualities, except that the app is pretty when it's filled with demo content.

* Do you find Facebook's iPhone app too easy to understand and navigate? Try Paper!

* Is the type in Facebook's iPhone app too easy for you to read? Try Paper!

* Are you tired of swiping down on Facebook's app and wish you could do some swiping left and right? Try Paper!

* Do you enjoy losing your place in your newsfeed when you tap on a story to read more? Try Paper!

* Do you enjoy voiceovers reading text to you that is already printed on your screen? Try Paper!

* Want half of your iPhone screen taken up by distracting images unrelated to what you're reading? Try Paper!

* Tired of having two good apps for news and Facebook and want a single app that does both poorly? Try Paper!

* Do you LOVE generic app icons that could mean "news", "email", "flashcards", or "envelopes"? Try Paper!

* Tired of not having to wave your phone in the real world to see the sides of a digital photo? Try Paper!

* Prefer apps that require a tutorial before you can use them? Try Paper!

* Want to read stories from "the world's best sources," but only inside of a walled garden? Try Paper!


This is a geek's response to an incredibly well-designed product.

What bothers me more is the blanket sarcasm and disregard in your comment. An incredible team spent years working on this, sweating every detail. Isn't that worth investigating, rather than taking cheap shots at the icon design or voiceovers? Even the Dropbox app has an intro tour.

There's a lot of great stuff in Paper.


I disagree that it's "incredibly well-designed." Extensively designed maybe.

What bothers me more is the blanket sarcasm and disregard in your comment.

I downloaded it and tried it. I added topics to my Paper, tried out all the features suggested in the intro. I tried to read my friends' updates. I found it tiring to have to concentrate so hard to consume information from the tiled layout that is much more appropriately conveyed in a list, like in the main Facebook app.

An incredible team spent years working on this, sweating every detail. Isn't that worth investigating, rather than taking cheap shots at the icon design or voiceovers?

Great teams occasionally spend lots of time making something that doesn't succeed. Cuil. Color. Facebook Paper.

If you disagree with any of my specific criticisms, I'm happy to discuss them.


* Do you find Facebook's iPhone app too easy to understand and navigate? Try Paper!

Ha.

* Is the type in Facebook's iPhone app too easy for you to read? Try Paper!

Didn't find Paper's type difficult to read.

* Are you tired of swiping down on Facebook's app and wish you could do some swiping left and right? Try Paper!

Ha. As if the original app didn't have horizontal swiping.

* Do you enjoy losing your place in your newsfeed when you tap on a story to read more? Try Paper!

As far as I could tell, the cards at the bottom maintain their order after you dismiss a story. It even has its own scroll bar position indicator.

* Do you enjoy voiceovers reading text to you that is already printed on your screen? Try Paper!

Didn't have my headphones on, didn't notice them.

* Want half of your iPhone screen taken up by distracting images unrelated to what you're reading? Try Paper!

The top half are headlines. There's not much to read there. The bottom half goes full screen once you tap as well.


The issue with "incredible teams" at companies like Facebook is that they subscribe to ideological frameworks that lead them to make decisions that make sense internally, but not so much externally. You see evidence of this in their overuse of keywords like "disruptive", "delight", "intuitive", "natural", "flat", and "gets out of the way", all of which no longer mean anything specific. As if this is not bad enough, because they have a total monopoly on attention, their ideologies then go on to condition the expectations of their users, who are pretty much everybody. Only the trolls, cranks, geeks, and stubborn intellectuals who are by nature suspicious of externally imposed ideology perceive this, which is why you – and employees of Facebook – should listen to them, albeit with a grain of salt.

That said, I agree that the expert skill evident in the design of Paper and other Facebook mobile products is something to behold and worth appreciating for what it is on it's own terms. Just don't drink the Koolaid.


"The issue with "incredible teams" at companies like Facebook is that they are indoctrinated into ideological frameworks that lead them to make decisions that make sense internally, but not so much externally."

To be fair, this sounds pretty Koolaid-esque as well. But you know what? Sometimes Koolaid is just a refreshing, sugary drink.


You're right – I changed the wording to sound less like a conspiracy theory. Indeed nobody is exempt from ideology, but it is important to be aware of it. Interacting with people outside "the system" is one way to do that.


Disclaimer: I have not, nor shall I ever use paper.

But I did have a bit of a chuckle at your comment only becuase I am reminded of all the self-back-patting that quora did where they were touting their site design as incredible and what not, and told anyone who disagreed that quora was the pinnacle of design that they were just too stupid to know great design when they saw it.

Facebook suffers from an incredible technical cancer; the belief that every single thing they do is the best way to do it and that they're all so damn smart! Facebook needs humility.


Sure, it's well-designed because you say so. At least try to counter the myriad actual issues that the person who you responded to listed out, or come up with some design innovations made by this app to make your point.

I'll just say that I agree with every point cfinke made (and I'll add that even more space is also wasted when displaying status update which don't have photos associated with them). If it took a sizable team 'years' to make this app, then what a lot of time and talent wasted.


This is a geek's response to an incredibly well-designed product

The notion that geek's somehow can't make critiques of "designed products" is dismissively painting with a very wide brush. Would you dare say that men or women or Jews wouldn't be able to muster an informed opinion on something?


As a Day 0 user, I pretty much agree with the OP. Will check back after a week, but yeah, it's a pretty jarring first time user experience and if it wasn't from Facebook and didn't come with this much hype, I don't think I would be using it tomorrow, along with many other users.

One thing to keep in mind though is that they are likely gathering usage data and will adjust the product accordingly, so we should at least wait for some version updates before giving out the final verdict.


Such an incredible team should be able to come up with an original name for their app.


While we're talking about voice overs, let's talk about the one that actually matters - try turning on Voice Over mode and navigating the app the way a visually impaired user would. It is completely and utterly unusable.


>What bothers me more is the blanket sarcasm and disregard in your comment. An incredible team spent years working on this, sweating every detail.

I'm calling bullshit. What makes the team incredible, aside from their product being at the center of a Facebook PR blitz?


Google Mike Matas and Loren Brichter for starters.


I'm not a geek and I find the concept weak and the design weaker. And I think geek opinions are worthy.


Why is HN so negative? Is it jealously, anger, annoyance, spite? FB's focus is to appease 'normal' people. Not people who live on sparsely designed HN. Go ahead down vote me, but people should try the new app for a few weeks before knocking it. If you don't like it, you can stop using Paper and go back to the regular version.


It basically turned my News Feed into Flipboard, which is pretty much what they advertised, right?


Based on this Quora answer to "What was it like to help develop Paper?" (http://www.quora.com/Facebook-Launches-Paper-January-2014/Wh...), I expected it to at least fold my laundry and wash my car.


For what it's worth someone did a humorous "translation" of that answer. https://gist.github.com/anonymous/b31d213d5a0d4e97b59e/raw/9...


I've got to admit, this isn't humorous to me at all. Mostly just pathetic, mean-spirited, and ... gross. Yet another example of someone hating anonymously from the sidelines.

I think our industry would be better off with fewer people doing that.


I think a lot of people took exception to his comment:

> I think the team behind Paper might be the best iOS team anywhere in the world, including Cupertino.

I actually think it's true (regarding the quality of the team), from a UI perspective, but it's better to let other sing your praises.


I don't disagree with you, but I'll take earnest if overzealous praise of one's teammates over anonymous trolling any day.


The original post was so cringe... glad someone translated it so we could see why.


After reading so much Valley hype day after day, that was a breath of fresh air.


>* Facebook is supposed to be like a glass through which you can see its contents.*

They should have called the app 'Glass'


"No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame."


"they laughed at einstein they laughed at galileo but they also laughed at bozo the clown"


My biggest single problem with Facebook Paper is that the UI has too many possible interactions, making it confusing to decide how to navigate. There's no mindless default.

With the Facebook app I scroll down. With Flipboard I flip. With Facebook Paper I... swipe up and down and left and right and pinch and tilt. Fancy but unusable.


Facebook Paper was codenamed "Konami" during development because the navigation pattern is "Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right..."


For anti-Paper, check out http://likelytarget.com, also launched today.


Gut reaction review if anyone is interested - I moved FB off my home screen and moved Paper onto it. It's just Facebook with a better design and none of the features I never use. It has notifications, posting, stories, etc. It's great.


I'm on Android, but you point seems to mesh with what I've come to like about Facebook's mobile strategy lately. Instead of trying to jam every single feature into a single Facebook App, FB is releasing different apps the serve niche functions, and allowing users to use the products (and, with Paper, the interface) that work for them.

Personally, I don't have the Facebook app on my phone. The only FB app I use regularly is Messenger, which works well because everyone I know is on it. I also use Facebook for finding reading material and following the News, and so Paper looks really nice and I'm eagerly anticipating its arrival on Android.

A lot of people deride Facebook for over-complicating their app strategy, but I really don't see the problem. Facebook is allowing users pick and choose the functions that matter to them. I wish other companies would take this approach.


Sooo it's like Flipboard? I use Flipboard to view my Facebook feed and generally prefer it to the actual Facebook app.


I think I actually prefer the interface to flipboard, my only issue at this point is that I want to curate my feeds better. For instance the tech feed features Gizmodo, the verge, OZY, Techcrunch etc... but I only read 1 of those sites regularly. Also, I'd like to lump my friends into different feeds so college buddies, co-workers, family are on individual streams


We are working on solving this amongst other problems with www.discovle.com


Its exactly like Flipboard to me. I'm a heavy user of Flipboard and already the baby duck syndrome is making me hate Paper.


It's like Flipboard with Facebook notifications/posting as well. Read your timeline/other content (if you want, but they're totally separated which is great), get and respond to notifications, post statuses/content. What else do you do on Facebook?


For me it's all the features of Facebook I don't use with better design. I have everybody blocked from my News Feed and only use Facebook for a couple of Groups, Events, and Messages. I would love to see a dedicated Events app.


Least favorite feature so far: The icon.


The only feature I'm missing so far is the ability to view all stories, not just top posts.


Favorite feature so far: Open FB notifications in Paper.


It is kind of sad that Facebook threatens legal action on any company which uses "Face" or "book" in their names BUT they find it ok to use an already well-established app's name ("Paper") for their own app. Not sure how anyone at Facebook can reason that with a straight face.


Because Facebook owns the trademark on Facebook and therefore has to protect it. FiftyThree doesn't appear to own a trademark on Paper.


"Paper by FiftyThree" is a registered trademark.

[1] - http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4807:qzi8jw...


Thank you k-mcgrady, surprising that so many folks didn't realize that if you own a trademark, you are obligated to both use it actively and protect it unless you want to lose some or all rights to that mark.


Does anyone know how the app is able to login to facebook automatically? It doesn't show up in ios settings "allow these apps to use your facebook account", and it didn't seem to do the custom app-url-protocol flip-flop over to the main facebook app. Or is it as simple as a shared keychain entry because the app is signed by the same publisher as the main app?


Almost certainly a shared keychain.


Best guess is they use "identifierForVendor" mixed and some other verifications to log it in. Might be worth looking into, security bugs are fun to find.


It seems you are right. Paper recognized my account even without iOS native Facebook login.


Three things of note:

* It's really pretty, which makes perfect sense given the pedigrees of who was involved in its creation (http://www.mikematas.com/ and http://www.atebits.com, among others)

* The IPA file is huge given what it does. It seems like the bulk of the 50.4MB download is consumed by the completely unnecessary first-launch video.

* I found the app difficult to use, which is especially surprising given the pedigrees of who was involved in its creation. The process of switching between different data feeds was unintuitive to me, and I felt like there several instances where it simply failed to respond to my touches (I have an iPhone 5s, so device performance shouldn't be a problem).

Anyway, I promptly deleted it. I'll probably try it again in a couple months.


looking at the unzipped ipa file, it looks like a solid 40.7 MB of the app is just the binary ! another 9.8MB is the FBMessenger assets.


That's wild.


1. What a terrible icon. 2. Really well designed app. I think it might replace the main Facebook app for me.


Agreed on the icon, terrible design. I'm surprised they didn't make it red to further compete directly with Flipboard.


I'm surprised they didn't spend a billion on buying Flipboard. Then again I don't know if Flipboard is in the same league as instagram in terms of active users.


Aside from how beautiful it is I think buried inside is a unique solution for a problem that often occurred while browsing Facebook. Viewing widescreen photos in portrait was difficult without turning the phone (and many people lock portrait orientation). Paper uses the accelerometer to allow you to pan and view the entire image. I literally said "wow" out loud once I realized that I had already looked at two widescreen photos and not even noticed how seamless it was.


I think it's a well designed app and has a lot of nice gesture based interactions that become relatively natural once you play with it for a few minutes. You lose a bunch of the less used stuff and so far I don't think I've seen a sponsored post loaded in yet.

- Adding in content categories are exposing me to sources that don't normally show up on my Facebook feed which increases my likelihood to "like" them and drive more interaction.

- Massive real estate given to photos in HD resolution might increase the general quality of photos that folks post on Facebook since those really pop out in the article scroller.

- This large card format is going to make advertisers salivate as you can now use vertical scrolling space (if FB allows it) within the Paper format. Scroll down for more details, etc.


Just downloaded onto my iPhone and it's pretty cool... however, I don't think I'm the right audience. My life isn't nearly as interesting as Mike Matas and co. It just makes all the shitty pics that everyone posts on my newsfeed look that much worse.


I wish there was an option to disable relative timestamps. They are very poorly executed in this app in particular. After playing around with the app for a couple of hours, even stories that are more than an hour old are still rendered with "just now" or "3 minutes ago" as the timestamp. :(

In general: If you are going to hide the timestamps and replace them with an oh-so-convenient "X minutes ago" relative time, you should make damn sure that relative time is current at all times. Preferably even in screenshots and printouts.


UI is fantastic! * Its Facebook's attempt to bubble wrap you in what it thinks you fit. * Flipboard,Circle,NewsStand ... Why this ? *My Question would be, is it not essential to have USP for an established company to launch a product of their choice ? #justasking.


I mean pulse not circle


The strategy around paper seems pretty smart. Rather than re-design Facebook's mobile experience, they just created a new app to interface with it. Given the track record for re-designs simply failing and causing user revolt, this is very shrewd.


As usual, Canadian users are left out. ugh...


Europeans too. Had to switch over to my fake-us account to get it. Which means I'm unlikely to update it since that means signing out and in and out and in again.


and Android users.


The biggest pain point I have is that when stuff pops up in the top half of the main view, and then goes away. There's no way to get back to that content without scrolling through the bottom half, and if you happen to miss it (which is easy to do) then you're left wondering where the heck is that article or post.


I'm interested to see how they're leveraging data on what you've clicked on or read in the past to deliver better content as you (and others) use it to read news in addition to friends' updates.


The app icon doesn't really look Facebook-like and the second screenshot look like a photoshop disaster. If I had never heard of the app, I wouldn't think it's an official Facebook product.


Agreed. When I first saw it in the app store all I could read was "Paper - stories from…"[1]. You don't even see the word Facebook until you click through.

[1] http://pic.twitter.com/MoYtlFfxFv


Seems nice, but too bad it's not available on the Danish App Store


FYI: It appears to not be available for download in the United States.


The US is the only place it is available (or so it was reported a few days ago).


I was able to download it from the US App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/paper-stories-from-facebook/...


It won't come in the search probably, but if you go to the page for the Facebook app and click through to Facebook, Inc. you'll find it in their apps.


For me it was just hard to find.. had to look for "Related" apps under the main FB app.


and iOS 7 only. But I guess there aren't many others out there whose iDevices don't support the upgrade.


Does anybody know their strategy here?


It can take time for apps to propagate through the App Store once it goes live. It is not a 'flick a switch and the app appears everywhere' process.


Not available in Germany either.


In the default font size this looks really bad in firefox 26 on archlinux. Is/did anybody else having/have this problem? How do I fix it other than making the font bigger?


It's a beautiful app - my initial impression is that it takes longer to move through content. It'll be interesting to see if people begin to use this regularly.


> In our push for polish we had a goal of never dropping a frame on high-end devices, and we mostly achieved that goal. The engineering complexity here is finding a way to fully utilize the multicore architecture of newer iPhones

Sorry… but all the app shows are a bunch of photos and a bit of text. Never dropping a frame on the most high end of devices isn't anything to boast about, To be honest for what it's doing it shouldn't be dropping a frame on any device in the past 3 years




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