A new mobile app called Tap, launching today, introduces a different way to read stories on your phone: as text message-like chats. The app is the latest from Wattpad, a social publishing platform for authors whose community now includes over 45 million readers worldwide, who visit its site or its flagship mobile app to read its nearly 250 million stories.
With Tap, Wattpad is stepping away from the traditional storytelling format to experiment with a unique style of entertainment
The app lets users discover “chat-style” stories – that is, those that unfold as you tap to reveal the next part. The stories are designed to feel like you’re reading someone else’s chat conversations, the company explains, and they are even visually presented in a text messaging-style format.
At launch, there are hundreds of stories available across categories like horror, romances, drama and more.
Tap will also allow Wattpad users to write stories of their own, though this is initially available only to a subset of writers on the platform. The company says that the writing and publishing functionality will roll out more broadly in the weeks ahead.
In addition to reading the chat-style stories, users can also share the stories to social networks.
The launch represents another means for Wattpad to generate revenue for its social storytelling platform, as Tap is a freemium service. While the app itself is free, as are a select number of stories, it also includes the option to upgrade to a premium service. Here, users will gain access to an unlimited number of stories, including exclusive ones available only to subscribers. The service costs $2.99 per week, $7.99 per month, or $39.99 per year.
In more recent months, Wattpad has been expanding its relationship with Hollywood and the entertainment industry, thanks to deal with Universal, Turner, comics publishers and more. But Tap’s subscription service could infuse the company with another more straightforward and immediate revenue stream.
Tap is hardly the only app operating in this niche these days. It competes with others like fiction app Hooked, which offers chat stories and a means of writing them. Amazon also launched a subscription service for chat-style stories called Amazon Rapids, which targets kids. More broadly, Tap goes up against other mobile reading apps like Serial Box, Hardbound, or even social apps like Snapchat, which has its own short-form content available.
However, Tap’s angle is its voyeuristic take on the chat-style format. Instead of just getting snippets of the story with each tap, it feels like you’ve gotten ahold of someone else’s phone and are reading through their personal texts. That could appeal to teenaged or young adult users, who spend a lot of time interacting with content on mobile devices – a place that’s also where much of their social lives today unfold.