Facebook Releases Paper On iOS, Despite Criticism From Rival App
February 4, 2014

Facebook Releases Paper On iOS, Despite Criticism From Rival App

Enid Burns for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Facebook released its standalone Paper app this week, which is available for download on iOS platforms in the US. The newly available app integrates messages, notifications, search and a news feed. Industry buzz suggests that adoption of Paper will exceed that of Facebook's own offering on the mobile platform.

Paper was built as part of Facebook's new "Creative Labs" standalone app initiative, Techcrunch reports. On Facebook's Creative Labs page, it says, "Paper is the first product from Facebook Creative Labs, where we're crafting new apps to support the diverse ways people want to connect and share."

A link from the page allows users to explore Paper. A video introduces the app, as well as a link to download the app on iTunes. The app infuses Facebook feeds with elements of the popular app Flipbook, an app that allows users to subscribe to curated news content -- as well as create curated news volumes.

The paper app video stresses storytelling. Users can post a string of photos from a vacation or event, or even an image that means something to the user and his/her group of friends. Paper essentially shows news feeds in a new angle, where users can scroll through a photo album as if it was a film strip, and actually turn pages and zoom into photos. The app uses gesture-based movements to let users explore their feeds, as well as newsfeed content.

The appeal of the app is more in the way it looks than in the way it allows users to consume news, ReadWriteWeb reports.

Users are able to customize their feed once logged in, including the topics that are shown by Paper, such as "headlines" and "Flavor." Flavor shows culinary content, such as restaurants, recipes and markets. "Once you've chosen a handful of topics, you're first taken to the Facebook news feed where you can scroll through your various status updates from friends and pages you like by swiping right and left. You can also view all your notifications, messages and Facebook friend requests directly in the Paper app," wrote ReadWriteWeb's Selena Larson.

In addition to right and left swipes, Paper uses both vertical and horizontal finger swipes to navigate from story to story, or topic to topic, according to Forbes. The intuitive gestures are expected to help Paper become popular, possibly more popular than the Facebook app on mobile platforms.

The app is currently available on the iOS platform; there is no word yet on when a version will become available for Android or other platforms.

While there may be some confusion with Facebook releasing a standalone app that allows users to consume their news feed, Paper is causing some other confusion. The original Paper app developed by FiftyThree, which allows users to draw and doodle, is not happy about Facebook's new app also being called Paper, CNET reports. FiftyThree's Paper was named Apple's 2012 iPad application of the year.

The sketch app developer FiftyThree fears that Facebook's Paper will quickly rise up in search rankings, and bury the original Paper under lengthy search results.

"We think Facebook can apply the same degree of thought they put into the app into building a brand name of their own," FiftyThree co-founder and CEO Georg Petschnigg wrote in a blog post. "Facebook should stop using our brand name."

While currently it is up to Facebook to reconsider the name of its highly anticipated app, it may come down to a trademark battle, The New York Times reports.

"We were really surprised when we heard that Facebook was releasing an app called Paper," said Petschnigg, to the New York Times. He said the app "Paper" has been trademarked in the United States and in several countries abroad. The New York Times said the United States Patent and Trademark Office website has the trademark listed under the name "Paper by FiftyThree," which was filed for on May 11, 2012.