Facebook’s ‘Paper’ App: What You Should Know

paperToday is Facebook’s 10th birthday (feel old yet?), so it’s only fitting that the Mark Zuckerberg-led team launched a pretty bold (and, in my opinion), beautiful reincarnation of itself just yesterday.

Universe, meet Paper, the app that’s meant to combine your traditional Facebook feed, complete with your friends’ photo albums, statuses and check-ins, with news stories from a host of respected, national publications in one experience.

Paper pivots around the abstract notion of stories, and its focus on this concept is quite successful. In its most basic form, Paper has all the functionality of the Facebook mobile app. But Paper is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor because it was structured with a mobile-first mindset, unlike Facebook, which had to be reimagined years after its initial design during the “desktop age,” Business Insider reviewer Jim Edwards wrote Monday.

“Paper appears to be Facebook’s answer to the question, ‘If we were to re-create Facebook as a standalone app that delivered a beautiful, simple, highly focused experience, what would it look like? Well, it looks like Paper,'” he continued.

After spending some time with Paper, I think there are just three things you should know about the app:

1. It’s gorgeous and responsive. Scrolling through photos or transitioning across news topics and articles is seamless, and videos fill the screen for an enveloping experience.

2. It lets you personalize your “Paper.” My “newspaper” contains my standard Facebook feed and daily headlines, plus select topics like “LOL,” Flavor, Tech, Pop Life, Enterprise and Equalize, which highlights news about gender equality. To switch between Paper sections and stories, just swipe across.

3. It’s nothing like anything you’ve seen from Facebook. Not the Web rendering and not its apps, including Messenger. At the same time, Paper doesn’t neglect your favorite Facebook features — “likes” and other notifications, as well as messages and friend requests are all easily accessible from the Paper interface.

We’ve been hearing about Paper’s arrival for a while now, and I think it was worth the wait. So do some other folks:

“Perhaps Facebook realized that it’s bigger than your group of friends, and that supplying valuable content and curation is another avenue that both businesses and users could love,” wrote The Verge’s Ellis Hamburger, who rated Paper with a respectable 8.5 out of a possible 10, based on an average of design, features and performance ratings.

AJ Dellinger of Digital Trends called Paper “half social network, half Flipboard, and fully awesome.” I’d say that’s a good assessment.

You can download the Paper iOS app for free here.

What are your first impressions of Paper? What would you change about it? And, do you think an overhaul of the Facebook app might be imminent?