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Facebook gives Paper its first update

Reader app gets event and birthday notifications, photo comment and nine new covers

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
April 19, 2014 | Comments
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/3665

It's been two and half months since Facebook debuted its new reader app called Paper. So I'd say it's about time it got an update, right? 

Facebook agrees and so, for the first time in 10 weeks, Paper users are finally getting some new features, Facebook revealed in a blog post on Friday, though they seem to suggest that Paper is becoming a bit more like the original Facebook app.

Here's what's new:

  • The company has added notifications for birthdays and events, because "fife’s best stories often start with a big event or a birthday." True enough, I guess, but doesn't this bring the app closer to being like the original app? 
  • Users can also now comment on Facebook posts with photos instead of words, another feature that, like the event notifications, is something you can do on the original app and seems to be another indication that Paper is becoming a bit closer to Facebook's original vision.

"Sometimes you want to comment on a friend’s post and words aren’t enough to express yourself. How about adding some color to your commentary with a photo?" Facebook said. Because, let's face it, the written language is dead.

Here is what that looks like:

  • Groups, which have always been part of the app, have been given unread counts, in order to allow users to see which of them have new posts. 
  • One of Paper's original features were covers that "make it easy to spot articles from trusted publishers and decide what to read or watch." The app originally had 50 of them, and has now added nine more: Bloomberg News, Mashable, FT, kottke, Fox News, Popular Science, The Hollywood Reporter, Vanity Fair and Hacker News.

Our vision is to make Paper the best way to experience stories from friends and the world on Facebook. We know we have work ahead of us—and that’s why we appreciate your feedback and support.

The Paper reader app, which debuted in January, was the first product from Facebook Creative Labs. It displays stories based on themes, which allows the user to follow their specific interests.

Since then, Facebook has revealed that users read an average of 80 stories each day across five to six sections. The most popular section is, of course, Facebook, along with Headlines, Tech, Ideas, LOL and Pop Life.

Facebook's apps suite

Paper is part of Facebook's push to create a suite of stand alone apps.

Following the release of the company's earnings reports in January, Mark Zuckerberg got on a conference call and said that Facebook would be continuing its push on mobile in the upcoming year with more standalone apps, a la Instagram.

That vision was reinforced by two moves made by the company since then: first, it's $19 billion purchase of WhatsApp in February, followed by its decision to force Facebook users to download a separate app in order to use its instant messenger service via mobile. 

Facebook has always maintained that it never wanted to create its own phone, but that never meant it didn't want to take over the one you already have.

(Image source: facebook.com)


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