News Update: Facebook Instant Articles To Be Unleashed

By Christina Gaines | @stinaegaines  

The clock strikes 12:01 PM.

Congratulations, laborers: it’s officially your lunch hour. Your chest heaves in long-awaited relief. It is at this moment, you begin strolling out the office doors and commence perusing your mobile Facebook feed. Until... bam! You’ve found it: Liberation. Knowledge. The golden gratification to your instinctual search.

You’ve spotted something very important; your fingers twitch to open it. The blood of the highly impatient Millennial within is pumping. Perhaps it’s an obscenely adorable baby sloth video. Maybe it’s a crucial news update regarding a deadly virus outbreak causing infantile head deformation. Or, you missed the debate and want to watch a particular buffoon in action.

The problem is: You happen to have ventured into a low-signal area. Tough luck, friend - your article might take more than a hot minute to open.

Facebook has addressed the problem with the up-and-coming launch of “Instant Articles” on April 12: its answer to slow, difficult downloads.

Facebook Instant Articles are optimized HTML5 documents that will be offered to any and all publishers, enriched for faster mobile performance and a sleeker design. By pre-fetching stories when you cross them in your News Feed and tossing out unneeded code, the format is significantly quicker to load than with traditional links. To top it off, each publisher (I.e media outlets anywhere from Washington Post, National Geographic to Buzzfeed) will have the capability to customize the appearance of their articles, leaving room for more creative and interactive storytelling. As Facebook puts it, we should come to expect strides in the form of high-resolution images, tilt-to-pan photos, auto-play video, interactive maps and embedded audio captions.”

It does not, however, necessitate a corresponding Facebook post. It is simply meant that when one shares an article on Facebook, it will be displayed as an Instant Article. Lucky for the long-winded, the length of the article is not limited here.

Will publishers feel this to be an arduous, over-complicated labyrinth of an update?

Au contraire: Facebook deems the feature an “easy” process to adopt, and a system that would flow seamlessly with a publisher’s current content management and analytics tools.

Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t forgotten us mortal bloggers, either.

Facebook Instant Articles has joined forces with Automattic (No, we didn’t spell that wrong - it’s the guys behind WordPress’ publishing software) to release a plugin that boasts up to 10 times the speed. Its built-in toolkit should be a promising touch to blog viewing pleasure, as well.

I, for one, am very excited to give the new feature a go.

What do you make of it? Will Facebook Instant Articles bring fame or flop? Give us your two cents in the comments below.