Facebook is shutting down Paper, a bold reimagining of the company's flagship app for iOS that impressed critics but failed to attract a large audience, the company said today. The app transformed the core Facebook experience into a kind of newsreader, with customizable sections for politics, technology, food, and other subjects. Visitors to the app received a message saying the app would no longer function after July 29th.
When it was introduced in January 2014, Paper signaled the beginning of a design renaissance at Facebook. The look and feel of the app were orchestrated by Mike Matas, whose design firm Push Pop Press was acquired by Facebook in 2011. Paper was notable for the novel animations it used to guide you through the app — tap on a link and it would unfold like a letter; pull down on the story and it would fold back up, returning you to the feed.
Praised by design nerds — and people who enjoyed using Facebook ad-free
The app was praised by design nerds (and people who enjoyed using Facebook without seeing any ads). But despite the enormous growth of Facebook, which surged to 1.09 billion daily users this year, Paper has not been among the 1,500 most-downloaded apps since December 2014, according to research firm App Annie. It never came to Android, and the iOS version was last updated in March 2015. Creative Labs, the initiative inside Facebook that built Paper and several other experimental apps, was shuttered in December. At that point, Paper's eventual shutdown seemed likely. Matas left the company earlier this year.
Facebook says that ideas from Paper have made their way into other Facebook apps, most notably Instant Articles, the fast-loading story format that the company introduced last year. Instant Articles borrowed several design elements from Paper, including full-bleed images and custom designs for individual publishers' articles. "Our goal with Paper was to explore new immersive, interactive design elements for reading and interacting with content on Facebook, and we learned how important these elements are in giving people an engaging experience," the company said in its message to users.
Paper will be removed from the App Store later today.