Facebook partners The Straits Times to bring Instant Articles feature to iPhone users

A lightning bolt helps Facebook users identify an Instant Article.
A lightning bolt helps Facebook users identify an Instant Article. PHOTO: FACEBOOK SCREENGRAB

SINGAPORE - Facebook has partnered The Straits Times to roll out its Instant Articles feature in an early launch across Asia on Thursday (Dec 3).

Instant Articles, which is currently available to iPhone users only, promises a faster and richer experience in consuming news and features.

Stories published in this format are marked with a lightning bolt in the top right corner of the thumbnail. (http://str.sg/ZDmn)

While a standard mobile web story takes an average of eight seconds to load, Facebook said in a press statement, Instant Articles makes users' reading experience 10 times faster.

"The reader experience has always been our top priority. Taking part in this roll-out not only allows us to reach out to some of our users better, it also gives us new ways to tell a strong story with rich multimedia content," said The Straits Times' social media editor Daryl Chin. 

"Expanding Instant Articles in Singapore is a significant milestone for the product and for each of our early launch partners," said Mr Andy Mitchell, Facebook' director of Global Media Partnerships.

"Instant Articles has been designed with extensive feedback from publishers, and we're excited to bring this collaboration to our publishing partners in Asia to help them distribute fast, interactive articles to their readers in the Facebook app."

The Straits Times is the only Singapore partner. Other publishers in Asia include CCTVNEWS from China, Ming Pao Daily News from Hong Kong, Sin Chew Daily from Malaysia and Apple Daily Taiwan among others.

Prominent publishers such as The New York Times, BBC and National Geographic have already taken advantage of the new format earlier this year.

Instant Articles first debuted in May as Facebook sought to bring richly formatted articles with interactive features such as zoomable images and auto-playing videos to its news feed.

It is currently only available on the iPhone, with an Android version due to launch later this month. Instant Articles will be open to a wider group of publishers in the months to come.