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Facebook's Paper app is looking less and less like Facebook

Facebook's Paper app is looking less and less like Facebook

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With Paper, Facebook set out to prove that it could "think small," rebuilding itself from the ground up for mobile devices. This meant removing lots of clutter, and in some cases, leaving out certain features that some Facebook users might have considered essential. Today, Facebook is launching Paper 1.1, an update meant to add back a few of Facebook's most important features, while continuing to think about how Paper can be different.

Paper 1.1's most noticeable addition is the inclusion of Birthdays and Events, two of Facebook's oldest features. But instead of bundling the two into your News Feed as Facebook's main app does, Paper adds them to the Notifications screen. "We thought Notifications would be a good place to put this stuff," says Michael Reckhow, product manager on Paper. "These are the most time-sensitive things you need to look at every day." Reckhow's conclusion might seem obvious, but inside a company that continually adds functionality without removing much, finding the logical place for any new feature can be difficult.

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Nearby Friends, a new Facebook feature that launched yesterday, was relegated to the app's "More" menu, for example. Giving Nearby Friends prominent navigational bar placement would've meant removing another feature that had been there for years, like the Friend Requests button. Paper seemingly isn't held to this kind of standard, and can mix and match whichever Facebook features it likes. Paper grabbed Facebook's popular photo comments feature for its latest update, but not Nearby Friends. "We are focused on some things that overlap [with the main Facebook app]," says Reckhow, "but we're trying to stay with what we do best in Paper: presentation, and telling you the most important things you need to know on a daily basis."

Facebook recently announced that it would strip messaging out of its main app, but Reckhow says he has no plans to do the same with Paper. "We’ve tried to keep Paper independent, and focus on the core things we’re doing and not get caught up in larger strategies going on in the main Facebook app," he says. Paper still works a lot like Facebook, despite its handsome looks and animations — but if Reckhow and the Paper team have their way, it could eventually both look and feel a lot different. One thing that won't change too soon, however, is Paper's focus on your News Feed. Reckhow says that News Feed is by far its most popular section, followed by Headlines, Tech, and Ideas.

"We’ve tried to keep Paper independent... and not get caught up in larger strategies going on in the main Facebook app."

It will all be for naught if Paper can't acquire new users. After its first month on the App Store, where Paper received prominent placement from Apple, the app has rarely jumped back into the top 500 most-downloaded apps. But Reckhow isn't worried. "The chart doesn't really factor in to whether we're happy," he says. "It's about when you talk to people who are using Paper, and you ask them how their experience is, and they say 'I love Paper.' That’s something the App Store charts don’t measure."

Facebook is playing the long game with Paper, one of many apps to come from its experimental Creative Labs division. "We understand how to grow apps. We sell growth as a service, and so that’s the least of our concerns," says Reckhow. "We want to reach this point where people are so happy that they'll tell their friends and introduce new people to the product." The typical users looks at 80 stories per day, says Reckhow. "Our early signals say that people are spending a lot of time in Paper."

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Sep 24 Striking out

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Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


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Andrew WebsterSep 24
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At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.


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Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.


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Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.


A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
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Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.


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Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.


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If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.


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Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

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Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.