Facebook announced today it’s launching a news curation app for iPhone called Paper.
The Paper app pulls in news stories, photos, and videos your friends share in their News Feeds and displays them in a photo-intensive layout. You can also create your own feeds by topic from a list of publications Facebook has partnered with.
Facebook has long been rumoured to be working on a news reading app, and it’s another part of the company’s strategy to broaden its ecosystem of smartphone apps like Messenger and Instagram. On Wednesday’s Facebook earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg hinted that you can expect more Facebook-branded apps this year. The company is also hiring human editors who will likely help curate content in Paper.
Paper is very similar to Flipboard, a popular app that originally launched on the iPad in 2010. Flipboard also pulls in stories from your Facebook News Feed along with links shared by people you follow on Twitter and LinkedIn. Facebook’s Paper is clearly a threat to Flipboard, especially since Facebook has the right to block Flipboard’s access to stories shared on Facebook. If Paper becomes popular enough, it would be smart for Facebook to do that.
On the other hand, Facebook doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to copycat apps. For example, in late 2012 Facebook launched Poke, a photo-messaging app that was essentially a clone of Snapchat. Poke had a brief spike in popularity, but it’s now basically dead.
Google also tried to make a Flipboard clone called Currents, a pretty news reading app for iPhone and Android, but that has also mostly faded into obscurity.
Paper doesn’t launch until February 3, but we have some photos and video of the app for you below. You can also check out Facebook’s very fancy new Paper site for a demo.