Many of the popular services that we use and love today were created to help us share our stories. Whether it’s in the form of a 140-character tweet or a photo cross-posted from Instagram to Facebook, all of these social apps are doing their best to allow us to share our stories with others. Unfortunately, while each of these services excel at creation, none of them are particularly good at curation.
This is where Storify comes in. Put simply, Storify is a way to make sense of the stories that are already being shared across all of your social services. While the web-app has been around for a while, the iPad app is next-to-new and we have a full review.
First Thing’s First: Getting Started
Getting setup with Storify is as easy as creating an account (or logging in if you’ve used the web-app) and then tying in your accounts for other services. You’ll be asked for your email to create the Storify account to begin with, and then after that each account is added manually.
I was relieved to see that Storify takes advantage of the baked-in Twitter integration of iOS 5. Once the app was started I tapped on that little bird and was prompted to allow access to Twitter accounts. One tap later and voila – everything was setup properly.
Unfortunately, such system-wide support doesn’t exist for other services. Logging in to, say, Facebook or Instagram, was an easy task but required jumping around mobile web views, entering usernames and passwords, and then waiting for the app to populate. Par for the course with apps that access the Facebook or Instagram APIs, but still frustrating, I was happy to have it over and done with.
What It’s For: Curation
As I mentioned above, Storify is a service that allows you to make sense of all the information across your various networks and turn it into a cohesive – and, more importantly, coherent – Story. This is the sort of thing that seems like a crazy idea until you actually need it.
Let’s say that, for example, I want to make some sense of the way Apple’s iPad 3 announcement went down earlier this morning (at time of writing). Sure, it’s possible to piece some stuff together and get a good idea of what happened just by going through Twitter, but Storify allows me to actually create that Story and make life easier for myself and other people.
Of course, it doesn’t stop there. I’ve also made a Story to collect pictures of my nephew; the next step is to grab some tweets or other updates, and Storify has made all of this much easier than it would have been if the tool didn’t exist.
Storify looks good without being ostentatious. Everything that you see serves some function, and it’s clear that the team really thought through what a user might want to do and spent some quality time polishing the app.
Most interactions are performed via drag and drop. See a tweet that you want to add to a Story? Simply grab it, drag it over to the page that you’re working on, and drop it. From there you can grab the little Edit bars (those three lines that have, through common practice, come to mean that something can be dragged and reordered) and move the tweet across the page. This works for tweets, photos, links, etc. Everything can be moved and reordered.
The items that you can interact with are represented in a pull-out tray to the right of the screen. If you begin to dig deeper (say, you follow a link within a tweet) another tray is made and you can interact with that separately from the main tray. I would have appreciated being able to see items from Twitter and Instagram or Facebook concurrently, but that isn’t possible with this version of the app.
The main point of this app is, obviously, creating different Stories, but it’s capable of a little bit more than that. Beyond just making Stories you’re also given full control over how the Story is published; you can choose to post it to Facebook or Twitter (or both or neither), decide whether or not to let a user know that they were included in your story, and format the message used when the item is posted.
Of course, you probably expected that. What good is a Story that can’t be told?
One other thing that proved nice was the ability to tweet from directly within the application. This seems like a small thing, but if you feel like participating in the conversation or reacting to something that you happen to be collecting for your Story, it’s possible. A little thing like this seems trivial by itself but, when taken in the full context of the application, actually helps to improve the experience.
Unfortunately not everything in Storify’s iPad app is made of rainbows and gumdrops. Performance was rather hit-or-miss during my testing, especially when I tried to navigate around Twitter (finding usernames or replies, etc.). Given the speed of which, say, Tweetbot can navigate the depths of Twitter it feels like Storify is a bit behind on this front.
There were also a few times that the app crashed while I was dragging an image (within a webpage) down the page. For whatever reason those images liked to snap to the top of the Story and, when I dragged them down, would crash the app. Once Storify was relaunched the application was at about the spot where I had last moved it, but it was frustrating to see this issue crop up multiple times within a few hours.
These issues, while frustrating, are rather slight and probably easily fixed. Hopefully Storify will keep up with this in the coming weeks, as I’m really fond of this app.
Are You Ready to Share Your Story?
I’m not going to beat around the bush: Storify feels like the future to me. There have been plenty of times that I wanted to construct a narrative based on the things that I and others have shared, but there wasn’t an easy tool to do so. With its good design and responsive drag-and-drop interface, Storify allows me to curate the Stories that I want to share with ease.
Like I said, the app isn’t perfect. If you can deal with an occasional shutdown – and once those problems are fixed this won’t be a big deal – Storify is worth a shot if you’ve ever wanted to have a bit more control over your social networks and have desired an easy way to take all of the small chunks of data you’ve posted and turn them into a cohesive narrative.