Reimagining Storytelling on iPads with a New (Free) App

3024957-slide-storehouse-visualstorytelling02Tablets are a great way to access infinite amounts of information with the tap of your finger. But, as we move from paper-based content to tablet-based content, we’ve seen some, well…problems. After all, you can’t just slap a piece of content that worked well on paper onto a tablet and expect it to perform the same way. That’s where Storehouse comes in.

Created by former Apple employee Mark Kawano and former The Daily staffer Timothy Donnelly, Storehouse is a free app that allows you to read and tell visually driven stories. You can import images from iPhoto, Dropbox, Flickr, or Instagram and drag and pinch them into a beautiful layout. You can add written narrative, too. More of a content-absorber and not a creator? Storehouse also allows you to explore other people’s work via a simple feed of suggested stories.

What makes Storehouse so successful and fun to use is its unique approach to tablet-based content. Kawano and Donnelly didn’t throw out paper-based methods but rather tweaked and reimagined them for the iPad. “One of the things we’re trying to achieve is the feeling you get from physical paper,” Kawano told Co.Design. “We’re really trying to think, what is the mental model of a person when they’re interacting with paper? And that’s not replicating the physical look or physics of the paper, but recreating, completely from scratch the digital equivalent–evoking that for a person.

Essentially, the app is translating what works well in paper-based user experience to an electronic-based user experience. It’s tactile, and not a huge leap from what we already know and love with paper-based content (think photo albums and scrapbooks). Unlike with Facebook photo albums or Instagram feeds, Storehouse allows you to tell a linear story from start to finish. Most people don’t click through a whole Facebook album from start to finish. With Storehouse, that’s how the content is presented, and meant to be viewed.

Plus, there is a lot more interactivity within Storehouse. Content viewers can tap, zoom, and pinch photos to see an easy-to-view gridded version of the story. Images fade as you scroll down the page. Text accompanies the images to explain how these images fit into the larger story the author is trying to tell. Then, when you’re done reading a story, you can pinch your way out or scroll to the bottom of the story to be redirected to the main news feed. Having multiple ways to enter and close a story is pretty smart from a UX perspective as it allows users to pick and choose the gesture that works best for them.

And, Storehouse doesn’t just make reading content easy. It also makes creating content a simple and enjoyable process. “I think a lot of people, when they thing about creation on the iPad, really try to mimic the idea of creation on the Mac and PC. But whatthe iPad is great at is the direct manipulation,” Kawano says. Essentially, the iPad is not limited to mouse clicks and keyboard taps. It’s a tactile experience that relies on taps, pinches, and swipes. So, Storehouse’s designers focused on the feeling of interacting with something tactilely. You can rearrange, crop, stretch, and zoom photos with your fingers. You can move and place photos much like you would if they were printed and spread out in front of you on a desk.

Of course, much like other apps, Storehouse knows that we don’t want complete control. After all, it’s too easy for novices to mess up. That’s why the developers built in backend logic that makes sure your text and images will always find a grounding visual sense, no matter how much you manipulate them. No scary child-like scrapbooks here.

Are you sold, yet? Check out the free app, available for download on the App Store:

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