There’s no shortage of mobile photo book applications on the market today, but a majority of these are focused on taking digital creations and turning them into offline, printed products. Memorability, a recently launched iPad photo book app, is different. Instead of bringing online web printing services to the new, smaller screens of smartphones or iPads, the app instead suggests that we no longer need to print out our photo scrapbooks at all — and that an iPad-only solution actually has advantages of its own.
If you do a search for “photo books” in the iTunes App Store, you’ll find a variety of solutions for building photo albums that can then be shipped to your home. Some of these are built for iPhone, like Mosaic and Simple Prints, for example. Others, like Printzel, are universal apps, and others still, like KeepShot, are iPad-only. Memorability fits into this latter group in the sense that it’s been designed for tablets alone.
But unlike the others, Memorability is not meant as a utility for building hardbound photo books — it’s the digital replacement for them. There’s no accompanying web service or printing option with the app. Users’ albums are saved locally to the iPad, while the company’s servers will only host the albums shared with other family and friends for up to 30 days.
Like the traditional scrapbooks it’s inspired by, Memorability includes pre-designed templates that can be customized with text and captions. But it also includes a unique feature, as well: voice support. In addition to arranging photos into albums, users can record narrative voice-overs. The resulting photo books can then be viewed in an automatic slideshow mode, or can be swiped through manually.
Private sharing is built into Memorability, allowing users to friend each other, then view and comment on each others’ books, which appear in the app’s feed. Plus, you can optionally share books to Facebook or via email to reach family members or friends without iPads. There the photo books are turned into movie files that play the slideshow and narration when clicked.
Based in Chapel Hill, N.C., and bootstrapped by husband and wife team Anne and Tom Clark, Memorability got its start — as many companies do — in order to solve a personal pain point in the co-founders’ lives. “I have thousands of photos of my children on my computer, but as a busy mom, I never had time to do anything with them,” says Anne, who worked on Memorability’s interaction design and wireframes while husband Tom, currently a senior director of product at TIBCO, coded.
“When I looked for a solution for my iPad where I could display my photos, I wasn’t happy,” Anne says of the iPad’s current app selection. “I wanted something that was more like a physical photo album. When I didn’t find anything like that, I decided we needed to do it,” she adds.
The premium version of the app is available for free in the App Store, offering a number of built-in themes, and the ability to record up to a minute of voice per page on albums that can be 20 pages long. After the launch period is over, the app will remain free but will then cost $3.99 to upgrade to the full version with more free themes and albums not capped at five pages each.
A number of album themes will remain available for in-app purchase in both editions, and new themes will be added monthly, says Anne. Given the scrapbooking vibe of building the digital books, there may be an opportunity for Memorability to sell additional embellishments in time, but the company decided against the “sticker pack business model” for now because the immediate goal is keeping the app easy to use. However, the team is considering letting users pay to keep their albums shared with others for longer than the 30-day default at some later point in time.
Memorability is interesting because it actually replicates the feeling you used to get from putting photos into a scrapbook, while also taking advantage of the digital medium that’s now at hand. It’s a lot like Disney’s recently launched private social networking app Story, except that Story is only built for iPhone, and is not as polished or pretty — things that matter to Memorability’s most likely female, Pinterest-pinning, family-focused crowd.
The Clarks also envision Memorability as more than just another tool for sharing photos, but rather as a storytelling platform, Anne explains. “One thing I’m hoping with this is people will have meaningful interactions by viewing these personal photo stories from family and friends,” she says.
The premium version of Memorability is available as a free download here. (The code MEMORABILITY will get you one extra free theme.)