About a year ago, Adobe launched Voice, its first standalone storytelling app that lets users record their own stories and then illustrate them with images (the Voice app is also getting an update today, by the way). Slate takes a different (and somewhat less experimental) approach and focuses on text and images instead. At its core, it combines the simplicity of the editing side of Medium with the design chops of Adobe.
Using a set of pre-designed templates, Slate users can create anything from magazine-like travel stories and photo albums to newsletters and reports. As Brian Nemhauser, Adobe’s director of product management for this project, told me, the company is aiming this app at teachers, students, nonprofits, small businesses, corporate employees and anybody else who wants to put together a highly visual presentation that mixes basic text and imagery. Once finished, users can publish their creations on Adobe’s servers and share the link with their audiences. Adobe also allows users to embed their Slate stories on their websites.
Editing text in Slate is pretty straightforward (Nemhauser called it “fail-proof” in our conversation). You can select between two headline types, lists and blockquotes. The app uses Adobe’s animation engine to apply transitions and other visual elements as needed.
Users can choose images from their iPad, Dropbox accounts, and Adobe Cloud Libraries (if they have them — a Creative Cloud subscription is not needed to use Slate).
While Slate doesn’t feature a built-in editor or any other advanced image-centric tools, Adobe is doing a couple of nifty things with visual content in the app. The final Slate story features a responsive layout, for example, but that means that your images may be cropped differently across platforms. So to ensure the image isn’t cropped in odd ways, you can tell Slate what’s the most important part of an image and the app will then make sure that part is always visible, no matter what platform the user is on.
Overall, Slate doesn’t feel as innovative as Voice given that there are already a few other iPad text-authoring apps around. It does, however, feel very polished and I could see myself using it to put together a travel story after a trip, for example.