In an era where Snapchat and Instagram reign supreme with quick messaging and bite-size snapshots of stories, iPhone users looking for a free platform to share long stories have had to make do with ugly workarounds – like stuffing seven pictures into one tiny Instagram square.
No one has built a really great free iPhone app that allows users to effortlessly create and share long interactive stories. Explory is aiming to break into the category by helping users combine photos, video, text, music and narration to create more meaningful stories to share. But can a free app with limited editing features convince users to ditch their 10-second disappearing messages in favor of longer storytelling? We went hands on with Explory to see. Here’s what we found:
What sets Explory apart from the likes of Instagram video, Vine, or Snapchat, is that it can be used to create much deeper engagement with your audience. It’s great for creating simple how-to videos, product demos, presentations, or a story about your recent trip the Grand Canyon.
Rather than sharing a hodgepodge of photos, Explory lets you organize your events into long narratives called explories. You can import a bunch of photos into an explory and arrange them on the narrative timeline for viewers to explore. If there are pictures that you want to include in your explory, but don’t want them in the main narrative, you can group them underneath a main photo and let viewers discover more on their own.
Video can also be added to explories by importing from the camera, or recording directly in the app which also allows users to change the aspect ration between 1:1, 4:3, 3:2, and 16:9.
To assist in the story-telling aspect, Explory also has tools that let users add text captions to photos, or if you’d prefer a more personable approach you can record narration tracks for each photo or video with the built-in recorder.
The biggest hurdle for Explory right now is its ugly UI. I love the idea of being able to create and share visual stories, but the controls for editing aren’t always that clear or easy to use. Additional controls would go a long way towards making explories look more professional. It’d be nice to have more text options than just a grey bar with white text slapped right on top of your beautiful pictures. Audio fade controls would be great too.
The other big limitation for Explory is the lack of users. The app has featured sections to display Popular and New explories from other users, but the sections suffer from a lack of new content and feature the same explories for weeks on end. If you’re just looking to create and send friends a link then that’ not a big deal, but one of the big allures of Instagram, Vine, Flickr, and pretty much every media sharing service is the trove of other user generated content to explore.
If you’re looking for a dead simple app to help you make nice how-tos or clean story narratives, Explory will definitely get the job done. It’s features are simple and provide a new way to tell stories over mobile. It may not be as advanced as some other video editing tools for iOS but for a free app that doesn’t spam you with in-app purchases, Explory makes for a great tool for those looking to find a new way to share glimpses of your recent adventures.