Technologizer

With Paper, Facebook Is About to Reimagine Itself for the Mobile Era

The dominant social network finally rethinks itself for the mobile age

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What’s the most striking thing about Facebook on the iPhone? That’s easy: it’s the fact that there’s nothing striking about it. The company’s iOS app is essentially similar to what you get in a desktop browser, with a few nips and tucks to reflect the fact that it’s on a teensy screen.

But on Monday, iPhone users will be able to try a version of Facebook that’s been utterly reimagined for the smartphone. It’s called Paper, and as you can see in the video above, it’s far splashier than any other incarnation of Facebook so far, with an emphasis on info from news sources (including TIME) and storytelling from your friends, a lot of animation, big images and an interface designed to let you navigate around with your thumb.

I haven’t seen Paper in person yet, but the Verge’s Dieter Bohn has, and he’s extremely enthusiastic about it. As he says, the interface owes a debt to both Flipboard and to Facebook’s own Facebook Home for Android. But it also looks like it incorporates plenty of fresh ideas — and it certainly looks very little like Facebook in its traditional form.

Two other thoughts as I bide my time until Monday:

1) Paper is debuting exclusively on the iPhone. That fact barely merits mention — as of early 2014, if a high-profile app is going to premiere on one platform, that profile is nearly always iOS. (Facebook Home was a notable exception, since it integrated itself into the operating system in a way that Android permits and iOS does not.) The industry’s tendency to favor Apple devices for big rollouts is an important, under-discussed edge that iOS retains over Android.

2) “Paper” may be a generic term, but I still think it’s a shame that Facebook chose it as a name when there’s already a wonderful iPad app with the same moniker.