Facebook’s just added some of the top requested features to its news and feed reading app Paper that could help it reach and retain more users. New options to share articles by text message, email, or Facebook Message automatically include a “Shared from Paper. fb.com/trypaper” link that could encourage people to download the app.
Another addition is the ability to mute the sound effects of the app, which is useful if you like to listen to music through your headphones while reading. Users can also now “Create stories in languages that use multi-stage input, including Chinese, Japanese and Korean.” For now, Paper is only available in the United States, but these options could make the app more appealing to residents who speak those languages. Facebook tells me “These are some of the features most requested by people using Paper.”
Facebook launched Paper on February 3rd to relatively strong reviews. Most critics enjoyed the forward-thinking design, though there are some usability issues around how you have to contort your thumb to swipe through stories.
While Paper is pretty and I have several friends who say they’ve switched much of their Facebook usage to it, it hasn’t managed to stay near the top of the charts. App Annie shows it currently at No. 28 in U.S. social networking apps, and No. 290 of all U.S. apps in the Apple App Store. Paper started strong, hitting No. 2 overall in the App Store, second only to Flappy Bird. Perhaps Paper reached some level of saturation amongst the Facebook power users and news addicts it was built for, because once the press and initial word of mouth tapered off, it seems to have had trouble attracting new users.
The new sharing options that include download links could help boost its numbers.
Luckily for Facebook, Paper is a standalone app from its Creative Labs initiative. It’s designed to be more of an experiment that soaks up tons of engagement from a subset of Facebook’s 1.23 billion users. The team told me it didn’t have specific download goals right away, and was instead focused on building a great experience people stuck with.
Once it gets the product worked out, and improves the human curation of articles which can feel a bit stale at times, I’d expect Facebook to prioritize Paper’s growth.
For more on the look and feel of Paper, check out our hands-on demo video below: