Facebook yesterday announced "Instant Articles," a new iOS-based platform designed to speed up the loading times of articles when browsing on the company's iPhone app.
Instant Articles offers publishers a new tool to host their stories on Facebook servers, negating the need to wait for a separate web app to load the content and in turn loading linked articles up to ten times faster than before. Publishers who take advantage of the feature will be provided with a suite of interactivity tools as well, including accelerometer-based photo zooming, audio captions, and the ability to like and comment on individual lines of an article.
The new feature is launching with nine partners: The New York Times, National Geographic, BuzzFeed, NBC, The Atlantic, The Guardian, BBC News, Spiegel and Bild. Facebook hopes that relegating full monetary control over an article to its publisher, including the ability to sell ads within Instant Articles and keep the full revenue, will entice more to support the service.
They're also allowing partners access to Facebook's Audience Network for a chance at beefing up ad spaces and giving them access to comScore and "other analytics tools" to track traffic data on articles. The new platform will also be malleable to each individual publisher, with Facebook introducing a tool set that will allow each specific brand to set its own customizable typeface, color, and layout to closer match what readers expect from each brand.
“Fundamentally, this is a tool that enables publishers to provide a better experience for their readers on Facebook” said Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox. “Instant Articles lets them deliver fast, interactive articles while maintaining control of their content and business models.”
Facebook's new suite of publishing tools aims to provide a more streamlined, hassle-free experience for users of its mobile app, which is always a good thing for a company constantly trying to be forward thinking. However, as The Verge points out, Instant Articles essentially boils down to being "a new publishing format," which could spell doom for those unwilling to join the ranks of Facebook's partners in fear of losing creative control of their own stories.
Instant Articles is available now on the iPhone Facebook app, with special content produced by a few of its initial launch partners. The company hopes to launch to a wider range of smartphone devices in the coming months, as it attempts to gather more publishing partners and listen to user feedback to "help us improve the experience."