quipioWe’re trained from a young age to appreciate the combination of images and text. The children’s picture book becomes the 20-something’s online comic or meme, creating a steady flow of static images and clever wordplay that sticks with us our entire lives. Now Quipio, a bootstrapped app developed in France, India, Vietnam, California, and New York, is making it easier to produce these augmented status updates.

The app has been featured by Apple in its Photo & Video section, and Quipio co-founder and Head of Product Zubin Wadia says that the iPhone app has been downloaded over 20,000 times. Users have “Quipped” 5,700 of these augmented status updates, which have been shared 17,600 times. And, for every registered user, Wadia says there are “at least two dark users” who download and use the app without creating an account. Not bad for an app released last week.

It’s hard to explain exactly what a “Quip” is. The updates sit somewhere between a status update, a photo, and a typographic exercise. Despite the difficulty explaining just what the updates are, chances are high that most anyone has seen one somewhere on the Web. At its essence, a Quip is like an Instagram photo with a typographic overlay, or a status update that looks different from the vanilla text seen on Facebook and Twitter.

If you’ve ever visited Tumblr or befriended a teeny-bopper on Facebook you’ve probably seen updates that mix (poor) typography and (unrelated) images to express emotions. As much as we all groan when we see these updates — really, the picture of those two teenagers holding hands wasn’t sad enough without “I’LL NEVVER [sic] LEAVE YOU” plastered over it? — there are a small few that are worth a glance. Quipio makes it easier to create those images.

Wadia says that other “text-on-image” services didn’t facilitate creation because they required too much user input. These services force users “to pick out fonts, sizes, weights, alignments, colors – basically everything BUT the process of lucid expression. It had to be fixed, and I think we’ve taken a significant step towards such a future.”

Quipio takes all of that out of the users’ hands. Users are asked to enter some kind of message, whether it’s a quote, an aphorism, or just a status update, and then “highlight” the most important words. I decided to go with “The only thing required for the Joker to win is for Batman to do nothing,” because Batman. Then I used Quipio’s image search to find the Batman symbol, and Quipio handled the rest. Gimmicky? You bet. Fun, even if it’s just to see how well the app works? Absolutely.

That’s likely Quipio’s greatest asset. Creating a Quip is fast and easy, and allows anyone who wants to pretend that they know what “kerning” and “typefaces” or “design” to make something that looks decent without requiring a lot of effort. Tweens will probably use the service to create the same overly emotional and (frankly) douche-y images as before, but everyone else can use Quipio to have a little bit of fun. And to honor the Dark Knight.

[Image courtesy dribbble]