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Facebook Paper lets you experience social media in a new, rich way

The app combines your account with curated personalized content

Published: February 14, 2014 10:45 AM
Score is one of many sections you can add to your Facebook feed.

Facebook is a place where you share stories about and view images of everyday life. But it has also morphed into a venue where more than 1 billion people worldwide share and discuss breaking news and personal photos, too. So it's no surprise that 10-year-old Facebook recently launched a free app called Paper, which offers a new way to accommodate users' wide-ranging activities. Here are my impressions.

Interface

In terms of look, Paper (for iOS only at this time), is all about pictures. There's one large photo on the top half of the page, something posted by you or your Facebook friends. Below that you'll find all your status updates in a neat row.

Swipe up from the bottom, and one update at a time shows on your display. When the update is all text, it's clean and open, and easy to read. When the update is a photo, it automatically fills your display, which scrolls panorama-style across the picture. The result is again a crisp, clean page for viewing photos.

Content

This is Paper at its most interesting. You choose from a number of topics (19 when I wrote this) to add as sections to your account, including Creators, Flavors, Home, Planet, Score, and Well Lived. Each features a mix of stories from well-known sources and up-and-comers. During a recent snowstorm, I found a recipe for Pistachio-Cardamom Hot Chocolate from a site called Savory Simple, for which I was particularly grateful.

The sections take you to well-known and emerging sources of information.

The items that show up are chosen by a combination of algorithms and curators. The curators also choose how you see what's posted, making sure, for example, that there's a good mix of photos, news, and opinions.

I discovered lots of interesting stories in my explorations, and I hope these can be further tailored to more-specific interests. It would be nice, for instance, if the City section could focus on the town you live in, or a place you're planning to travel to.

Sharing

As with "old fashioned" Facebook posts, you can share items you find in the various sections. The familiar share arrow is at the bottom of each story page (or card, in Facebook parlance). When you're sharing from another source online, just use the Facebook share arrow, and your post will end up on Paper.

Bottom line

Paper is a bit like the Flipboard news-reading app but not quite as customizable. Still, it's a great new way to view your Facebook news and then some, and it's free. Paper is definitely worth checking out.

—Donna Tapellini

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