As you may have read, Facebook finally introduced its Instant Articles offering officially. The company has partnered with The New York Times, National Geographic, BuzzFeed, NBC, The Atlantic, The Guardian, BBC News, Spiegel and Bild to launch the initiative, and will add additional partners in time.
What it does is enable publishers to feed content directly to Facebook, which then hosts it so it can show it to mobile users more quickly. It also includes some bells and whistles like tilt-to-pan photos, auto-play video, embedded audio captions, and interactive maps.
So how does it look? Well, first off you’ll need an iPhone to see it in action for the time being. If you ask Vic Gundotra, the guy who used to run Google+ (who is apparently an iPhone user), it’s just fantastic.
Gundotra had this to say about the “buttery smooth experience” in a Facebook post:
This is one of the first articles to use Facebook's latest technology that allows publishers like the New York Times and…
Posted by Vic Gundotra on Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Gundotra appears to be posting to Facebook a little bit more than Google+ these days (at least publicly), and I don’t see any posts from him about Google+’s new Collections feature, which essentially emulates functionality utilized by services like Pinterest and Flipboard.
As far as the Facebook content, I compared the article Gundotra shared on an iPhone and an Android device, and the difference is definitely very noticeable. The Android experience was decidedly unbuttery. Frankly, it was cold vegetable oil-spready at best. In fact, it seemed to take longer to load than articles typically do. I’m not sure if this is indicative of what we can expect on Android from all Instant Articles or if this was just one particular instance. My guess is that all the rich media in that particular article (which Facebook is touting as part of this, mind you) are what really slowed it down. A much lighter article from The Consumerist loaded much more quickly on Android (though not with the impressive butteriness of the iPhone Instant Articles experience).
Images via Wikimedia Commons, Facebook