Paper – stories from Facebook (Free) by Facebook, Inc. has gotten somewhat of a bad rap due to Facebook's feud with FiftyThree. Also, given the social network's history, it's nearly a guarantee that its users will become outraged by even the slightest of changes, and their reputation for copying others with apps like Facebook Camera and Facebook Poke isn't helping.
But Facebook's Paper app is very different, and that's in a pleasantly surprising way. Not only is it the best app design- and feature-wise that the company has ever shipped, but it also hints at a fresh new direction for the social network.
Hence the name, Paper is all about bringing back the experience of sharing memories and information through actual paper. The app's simple and beautiful gesture-driven interface gives Facebook a whole new identity.
Paper's UI consists mainly of large and small cards that can be swiped between in order to view various status or news updates. The larger cards, which are known as Sections, are divided between Facebook and other sources based on category. Sections can be added or removed from your Paper according to your interests. Of course, all of this data is pulled from Facebook, but it is a pleasant change that the app does not try to shove the brand itself down your throat – especially since there are no ads.
Swiping on the header image of each Section will switch between them, while scrolling through the smaller lower cards will display news and status updates. To actually view a post, swipe up on it to blow it up, and swipe up on content it contains such as a photo or news article to do the same thing. You can even tilt your phone to pan around photos. The animations that take place when performing these gestures are hard to get your eyes off of, and if you're like me, you may spend a lot of time playing with them and admiring their beauty. Essentially, swiping up goes forward, and swiping down goes backward.
The great thing about Paper is that, with the beautiful app, the need for the Facebook app is nearly gone since the social network is tightly, but not annoyingly integrated. The three buttons you're used to for checking friend requests, notifications, and messages are located in the top right corner of the main screen, and swiping down from here reveals a link to your profile along with a search function.
For someone who uses Facebook for viewing and keeping up with friends' lives, Paper provides an exceptional experience. Sure, the app cannot do every little thing that the Facebook app does, but the joy that comes out of using the app makes up for this. The fact that you can choose to open notifications in Paper also shows that Facebook is testing the waters, more likely than not, to see how users would react to a whole new experience.
To replace your Facebook viewing experience with something more relaxing and modern, be sure to download Facebook's Paper in the U.S. App Store for free on your iPhone.