The photosharing app wars roil on: StoryApp offers narrated tales in a whimsical interface
If 2013 is ever remembered as the year of storytelling, StoryApp very nearly missed the boat. (But not quite!) The company began work on its storytelling app in early 2011, finally revealing it to the world this week after 15 months of development. The result is a whimsical hybrid between photo and video sharing.
It's not revolutionary, but few photosharing apps are. Facebook didn't invent album uploads or tagging. Instagram didn't invent filters. Vine didn't invent video sharing. Snapchat didn't invent sexting. Frontback didn't invent the selfie.
And just in case you are groaning and thinking, " do we really need another photosharing app?" the answer is "no," we never technically needed any photosharing apps. That doesn't mean we won't continue to adopt new ones, adding them to our increasingly fragmented stables of communications tools. The fact that a simple app with fonts and filters built by a pair of blogging sisters in Missouri could skyrocket to the top of the App Store tells me that app makers will be putting new twists on the photosharing for a very long time.
It's hard to pinpoint exactly what makes one app or site take off and leaves the others to languish. Last week, MG Siegler noted that really good social media apps modify his existing behavior:
I didn’t take a lot of photographs before Instagram. And I basically never took video before Vine. But sometimes the smallest tweaks at just the right time can lift the barriers holding back new behavior.StoryApp actually goes against this idea: The app aims to mimic human existing behavior when it comes to sharing our photos. It is, like Frontback, Vine, and Instagram, laughably simple. You make a short video by talking over your photos. Each photo gets 3 seconds of narration. It's just like if you were showing someone photos on your phone. Typically in this situation, you narrate the images as you swipe through them. That's this, only in app form. Stories can exported as Instagram videos and to Facebook or Twitter.
The app itself is clean and whimsical enough that it could very easily catch on. Or not. Who knows! It's the first product made by development company Adam & Luna, which hired an illustrator who worked on Pixar's Ice Age movies to give the app personality. A wooden face, which reminds me of an old storybook character, reacts to your stories based on the tone of your voice in the narration. The idea is that you're telling these personal stories to the character, the same way you would tell a friend who is sitting next to you. Your stories appear in a winding path within the app. Why not!
The only issue is, what happens when Facebook clones it? Facebook has shown it's not shy about blatantly copying interesting features from other social apps. The company cloned Foursquare with check-ins and Snapchat with its launch of Poke. Neither of those seem to have truly hurt the original version. On the flip side, this week Facebook cloned Albumatic, a photo sharing app which hasn't even really taken off. Such a move could prove more deadly to less-established apps build around tiny feature improvements.
StoryApp is a sweet, very personal way to share your photos. As with all photo-sharing apps, whether it catches on is anyone's guess.