For those of you in the dark, Facebook announced Paper at the beginning of 2014 and a few months later released the app into the wild. Paper was an instant success that has somewhat fallen to the back burner. Last year Facebook made it more functional by including its Instant Articles platform that provides different news sources (like The New York Times, The Washington Post, or Buzzed) and the ability to publish articles directly to newsfeed. This allows articles to load faster for every user. The articles load as fast as if you were on the source’s own website. Even though Paper is less popular than the main Facebook app, it has given me five reasons to ditch the main Facebook app.
1. Battery Life
I recently discovered that the battery life on my iPhone 6 was barely lasting me half a day. Around lunch time my phone would already be at 30%, and with four more hours in the work day, this was unacceptable. I use my phone a lot. I tend to reach for it more than my Macbook and my iPad. With my phone being almost two years old, its not really surprising that my battery doesn’t last as long as it used to. There’s no reason it should be that bad. Thanks to the iPhone’s battery usage counter I was able to identify the Facebook app as the main culprit to my quickly waning battery life. Even after adjusting my notification and location settings, the app still sucked my battery dry. After deleting that app and switching to Paper, my battery now lasts me on average from 7a.m. until roughly 10p.m., with a few exceptions.
2. Less Apps
Remember when Facebook removed messages from the Facebook app and it seemed as if the world was coming to an end? People were then faced with a decision. Do I download ANOTHER app exclusively for Facebook messages (that could potentially be spying on me) or do I only check my Facebook messages when I find myself at a computer? If you were like me, you went ahead and risked the potential spying and downloaded the messages app. While this wasn’t a huge problem, I hated that the Facebook app still notified me I had messages and then I had to wait while the Facebook Messages app opened. Paper eliminates the need for a separate app for messages because it includes messages in the app. Having all that functionality in one app was a huge plus.
3. Better News
One of the foundations of Paper app is the inclusion of more news articles. The app itself is divided up into individual cards and each of these cards includes a different news topic. Upon opening the app for the first time, Paper will ask you what topics you are interested in and create separate cards for each topic. You can then swipe the header to the left to reveal each topic and below the header will be the top news stories for each topic. It’s like having Flipboard and Facebook all in one app. Often these news articles will load faster than if I were to open them in Safari or some other app. This is all due to the inclusion of Facebook’s Instant Articles platform. While Instant Articles are not unique to Paper, the inclusion gives me a reason to open the app more.
4. Gives Facebook More Purpose
I touched on this above when I talked about the inclusion of news and instant articles above, but when I open Paper I feel like I am looking at Facebook with a purpose and not just to waste time. The temptation to use it to waste time is still there and I doubt it will go away anytime soon, but it helps me sleep better at night if when I open Paper I read at least one news article before I close the app. Instead of being moved to a sidebar with trending posts, Paper moves the news front and center.
Paper is simple. It’s almost stupid how simple this app is. It declutters Facebook and just gives you what you really care about it. You can swipe through your friends posts and focus on what they posted instead of getting caught up in comments, trending articles, and hash tags or any of the other nonsense Facebook feels the need to shove in your face. In fact, in my time using it, I have not come across one promoted post. No more game invites. No more ads. Just your Facebook friends and news. That’s it. The layout is so simple you wonder why Facebook hasn’t adopted it for its own app.
Because of my love for apps, I was one of the first adopters of Paper upon its release in 2014. I’ll admit, my love affair with the app slowly died. I found Paper’s lack of functionality and its simplicity boring. I gave up on Paper after a few weeks of use and returned to the deceivingly loving embrace of the original Facebook app. After losing my faith in the Facebook app recently, I rekindled my love for Paper and I don’t think I’ll be going back anytime soon. The biggest draw has been the amount of battery I’ve been saving. Until I can get the same out of the Facebook app, I know I won’t be going back.
Paper isn’t for everyone. Like I said, the app is stupid simple, and if you need access to each and every setting on Facebook in one app, it probably won’t be for you. It’s also still an iOS only app, so sorry Android users. Maybe if enough of you complain Facebook will start porting their apps over from iOS to Android.
Update July 13: The body of this post was written well over a month ago and was lost amongst the rest of the work we had to complete for the site. Since that time Facebook has announced that on July 29 they will no longer support Paper and users will no longer be able to log in to the app. RIP Paper.