Tell a tall tale with Story

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By Pete Davison Comment

Story is a new iOS app from Team Story Ltd, designed to make telling photographic stories easy and fun. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store.

The fact that Story exists at all is somewhat surprising. Back in August of last year, this Blogspot site appeared apparently detailing two wannabe entrepreneurs’ attempts to make an app that did what they thought Path was supposed to do. What wasn’t initially clear was whether or not this site was legitimate or simply a clever satirical piece lampooning modern startup and app development culture — the tone of most posts is rather naive, flippant and irreverent, and the author even pokes fun at this fact on a number of occasions, noting that it “sounds like we’re a couple of arseholes doing a thing.”

It turns out that Story is real, however, and it’s now available for anyone to download and use. In its current state, it is obvious that there is work still to be done on the app, but the potential is obvious.

The app’s creators apparently — according to the blog, anyway — disagree on where the idea for Story came from. One claims it was a discussion they had pointing out Path’s flaws, while the other claims it stemmed from a cooking app he wanted to create in which he could take photographs of each step he took in preparing a meal. The eventual compromise they reached was an app where users could take photographs, add captions and then publish them as a complete “story.” The aim was to have “book-like icons that open up into blog-style posts.”

Upon opening Story for the first time, the user is presented with the Discover page, which presently includes all content published by the app’s users. Eventually, this will become a curated feed of featured content, but for now all published content is visible here. Tapping on a story allows the user to read it, view the creator’s profile and follow them. At present, Story may only use Facebook as a means of tracking a user’s profile, but proprietary accounts are in the works, apparently. The app uses iOS 6’s built-in Facebook functionality to make logging in easy, and the connectivity with Facebook is purely used to create an account — there is, at present, no Timeline or News Feed posting involved.

Creating a new story is simple. After tapping the “add” button in the corner of the screen, users are invited to add pictures or text to their story by tapping on a blank space. The first image always becomes the story’s cover picture; subsequent images may be captioned. Images may be reordered simply by dragging them around on screen; images may also be cropped by tapping on them and pinching to zoom. Once a story has been completed, it may be published to the main Discover feed with the tap of a button, at which point it becomes publicly viewable.

The app is off to a good start — the story creation facility is quick and easy to use, and stories look good when published. There are a number of key features missing, however. Stories do not appear to be editable once published, for example, meaning that they cannot be added to over time. Moreover, there does not appear to be the facility to save a story halfway through creation and come back to it later — the whole thing must be created in one go, otherwise it runs the risk of being lost. If the app remains in memory, tapping the “add” button returns the user to the half-finished story to complete, but if the app is closed from the multitasking bar or cleared from memory automatically, the user’s work will be lost.

The app would also benefit from some means of sharing stories outside itself. At present, stories look good within the app, but there is no means of showing them to people who do not have the app or a compatible device. The app is already connected to Facebook; the addition of a Timeline post inviting people to check out a Web-based version of the story would be a good means to implement this, as well as a great way to promote the app and its capabilities. Along these lines, the app also needs some form of friend-finding functionality.

These issues aside, the potential is obvious in Story. With a little work, it will be an excellent platform for users to create and share their own personal life stories in pictorial format. It will certainly be an interesting one to keep an eye on in the coming months as the team tweaks and refines the app’s functionality.

Story does not yet appear to be listed on the App Store leaderboards. Check back shortly to follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.

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