Paper, a new iPhone app created by Facebook is a nice new toy. It re-conceptualizes the current “feed” of a Facebook timeline. Instead of attempting to mass as much info as is possible inside a limited rectangular space, Facebook has gone for something more aesthetically attractive. ‘Intuitive’ is not quite the right word I’m searching for, but Facebook’s designers and engineers have come up with the idea of a custom page that spontaneously gives you your ‘ideal’ page once it has learned all your needs and habits. Well, theoretically, at least!

Mark Zuckerberg and his minions at Facebook curtsied to the world and celebrated the company’s 10th anniversary on February 4, 2014. As a bonus for the public, Facebook has released its Paper app for iPhone, along, of course, with the alternative ‘old’ layout. So, you ask, is it any good? To which I reply by saying what good old Granny Bagg would say as she sat me on her knee and told me wild tales of Bucharest between the wars: “It’s the eye that you look at it with,” she would say. “And you have two of them.”

Facebook Paper

What, I would ponder upon, is your relationship with the site. Real Facebook fiends – and you know who you are – should know where their bread is buttered and stick with the familiar. If, however, you’re looking for a more aesthetically polished presentation of your friends’ updates and some very select news items, Paper is the Holy Grail. Paper is also, temporarily only, available for free.

As I already said, the Apps PR people use the words ‘intuitive’ and ‘natural’ a lot, but you’d be wise to utilize its tutorial video and the accompanying downloads, You yourself are going to have to unlearn how Facebook has trained and disciplined you and the rest of so many of us over those ten years.

Step one means customizing your Paper app. It doesn’t take long. 19 topical queries need to be answered concerning your stays, preferences, hobbies, vices, etc. How you feel about giving this info up should also serve to clarify in your own mind whether you want to remain a Facebook old-school-style consumer. Your own chosen News Feed is your default home page. Carefully presented in 12-point type are your friends’ updates, each on their own individual tile. On the top of your page is a single, dominating image. Overlaid on the image is the associated text update and three familiar Facebook buttons: ‘Friend Requests,’ ‘Inbox’ and ‘Notifications.’ Paper then updates your postings every nine seconds or so.

Facebook Paper

Thumbing through all the content is made simple with gestures for navigation and a novel, side-to-side screen tilting function for viewing the entirety of large images. You can also make rich Facebook posts of your own right from Paper, with the app providing the ability to full-screen preview before you publish.

Tap an image. It will expand to take up the whole screen. To get larger images, you’ll have to settle for only part of the true picture. Below that are scan-able posts, very easy to read as you simply swipe to the right side. If you don’t have glasses and things are too small or too busy for you on the screen, you can simply swipe up and that post will fill up the whole screen for your personal viewing pleasure, which really is pretty darned cool.

A swipe to the right on the home page’s top module brings you to one of your chosen subject pages. News is culled from the usual suspects among  “trusted” sources, for headlines from the likes of Time, The New York Times and the A.P. Want other sources? You can redo your customization to get personal favorites like, say, The Des Moines Register. Then when you see a post you like, swipe up. Another swipe leads you to the source, while a swipe to the right collapses everything.

It’s still easy to access most of the site’s main features. Swipe down on the main page and up pops a menu for creating posts, editing sections. Paper is everything Facebook claims and very user friendly. So, with two Facebook apps competing for your attention, the one you choose depends on how much of it you want to focus on Facebook.

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