Facebook trots out social news app, Paper

With Paper, Facebook looks to expand its mobile footprint. 

Say hello to Facebook's Paper app.

Facebook today officially took the wraps off Paper, a free news-reading app that will be available on iOS devices beginning early next month. 

Paper is being billed by Facebook as a highly-customizable piece of software that will rely on both algorithmic recommendations and the advice of in-house editors to steer users to new articles. Think Facebook News Feed meets Flipboard

"Your Paper is made of stories and themed sections, so you can follow your favorite interests," reps for Facebook wrote in a press release. "The first section in Paper is your Facebook News Feed, where you’ll enjoy inspiring new designs for photos, videos, and longer written posts. You can customize Paper with a choice of more than a dozen other sections about various themes and topics – from photography and sports to food, science and design."

Of course, as Rachel King of ZDNet notes, Paper isn't exactly a new concept. Flipboard already has millions of users, and the popular apps Pocket and Instapaper allow users to easily store and organize articles. 

"Facebook's edge here is that it has the most obvious benefit of an overwhelming built-in user base," Ms. King writes. "Yes, not all of the 1.1 billion [Facebook] users and then some are using mobile primarily yet. But based on yesterday's earnings report (as well as several preceding it), that's where Facebook's usership is headed."

The report King refers to was a blockbuster one – among other impressive figures, Facebook reported that in December of 2013, there were 556 million active mobile Facebook users, up almost 50 percent from last year. Meanwhile, the social networking giant says that 53 percent of its overall revenue is now coming from mobile advertising. 

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