With Its New App Paper, Can Facebook Overcome the Burden of Being Facebook?

Paper, Facebook’s new iPhone app, is a confident product from a company that’s been slow to master the nuances of creating a fine mobile app. Out today, it’s probably the best Facebook has ever looked. But behind those looks lies a smart strategy to turn Facebook into a publisher of original content. Maybe, like Facebook Home, it will crash. But it’s still a fascinating window into how the company might eventually face off against media brands and content publishers.

Created by a small group of star designers and engineers operating as a sort of startup within the company itself, Paper isn’t a replacement for the official Facebook app so much as an alternative to it. Nevertheless, it’s far more polished and satisfying than Facebook’s other offerings, letting status updates and pictures luxuriate in a fullscreen layout instead of relegating them to a cramped vertical feed.

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