What’s the Difference between Paper and Flipboard?


If you’re a heavy smartphone or tablet user, then there’s a good chance that you’ve used Flipboard before. There’s an even better chance that you’re an active Facebook user. Just recently, the social network giant launched a new app for iPhone users called Paper. With both of them being based around the idea of “social news,” just how similar — or how different — are these two apps?

Paper v Flipboard

License: Creative Commons image source

Let’s take a closer look at both Paper and Flipboard so you can see what each app and service offers you.

What is Flipboard?

You’ve probably heard about Flipboard. It’s been a popular app on the iPhone and iPad for years now, and when it launched on Android it got another boost. Some of you might already be using it, but if you haven’t spent any time with the app then you might not know much about it. Flipboard has been billed as the digital magazine for the iPhone generation, and to some extent that’s a fair description.

It pulls together news resources all over the Internet and allows you to mix them together to create your own personal experience. Baked into the app are numerous ways to share news and stories you find interesting throughout Facebook, Twitter and more. See a news story about RKI gas tracers that a home inspector friend of yours might find useful? Share it with him instantly! As an app, Flipboard is based around the idea of a magazine, and you literally flip different boards to get to your next story. It’s the trademark feature of the app and many users really like it.

Flipboard is primarily a news application that gives priority to different stories based on how popular it is on social media, hence the idea of social news. You can add different news sources from around the web, and you can build your own personal news mix.

What is Paper?

An iPhone-only app right now, Paper is a completely new app from Facebook. Set apart from the social network’s mobile apps, as well as Instagram, it’s a redesigned way to look at your news-feed and other news stories. Paper hooks into your Facebook account, and the first thing you’ll see when using the app is your news feed, with large photos selected to give you a much more involved look at your friends’ happenings. Unlike the mobile app, however, there are no ads and everything is clean and well-designed. From the news-feed, you can see photos and stories from your friends.

However, from there things get a little different as the app offers news stories as well. Paper brings popular stories from major sources such as CNN, Huffington Post and more, but it also recommends stories that their accounts want you to see as well. As the name suggests, Paper is designed to act a lot like a newspaper, and so news is aligned properly and there are no ads cluttering the smaller screen space on the iPhone. As Facebook becomes used by more and more people for more and more besides just social updates, Paper is the mobile app that can deliver a socially curated news stream.

What Paper and Flipboard Have in Common

The two apps are almost cut from the same cloth, so it’s natural that they have a number of things in common. For one thing, they act very similar in the way that gestures are predominantly used to interact with the app. It’s not just about swiping up or down a static list; it’s more about interacting with the content to get a closer look.

They both allow you to create a sort of mix of the news that you care about, and they’re both freely available. The social concepts at the heart of both of these apps are pretty strong, and while they’re both news apps, it also feels like they’re both similar social apps too.

Where Paper and Flipboard Differ

As we outlined above, Flipboard and Paper have a lot in common, and while their similarities are quite broad and open, their differences are a lot more subtle. Facebook’s Paper sports much better social integration, and while it won’t replace the Facebook app on your iPhone, it’s much better for keeping in touch than Flipboard. As a result, you’re more likely to see big stories that matter to you sooner than you are with Flipboard.

In contrast, however, Flipboard is an application that better suits those looking for a pleasant experience in a news app. It’s been available for a lot longer than Paper and has some excellent news sources already built in as well as the ability to add whatever you want, something Paper doesn’t have. It’s also available on other devices such as Android smartphones.

So, there you have it. The differences and similarities between Facebook’s Paper and Flipboard. The two of them are quite similar on the surface, but they both travel in different directions, even though their aims are similar: to deliver social news. Paper has only just launched, however, so there’s going to be a lot more to see from Facebook on this front in the future.

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