Chat fiction apps are among some of the most popular in the App Store, thanks to their highly engaged, largely teenage to young adult fan base who enjoy reading thrilling stories told in the form of text messages. Today, one competitor in this space, Wattpad, is rolling out an upgrade to its chat stories to differentiate its app from others, and further addict its readers. The company is introducing a select group of stories called “Tap Originals” in its app Tap by Wattpad. These stories go beyond text to integrate media like video, sound, images, voice notes, and even a “choose-your-own-ending” feature.
If you’ve somehow missed the chat fiction craze, you’re probably an adult. These apps are hugely popular with teens – top app Hooked says its app has been downloaded 20 million times, for example, and nearly 70% of readers are under 25.
Meanwhile, Wattpad’s Tap app entered this market in February, where it competes with higher-ranking apps, Hooked and Yarn – now the #79 and #106 free apps across the entire App Store, respectively. The two also hold the #1 and #3 positions in the Books category, while Wattpad’s Tap comes in at #9.
Since its debut, Tap has grown its catalog to include over 300,000 stories, and is ranked in the top 10 in the Books category in several other countries outside the U.S., as well, including the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Its chat fiction stories, like those from others in this space, are far from being of literary merit. But arguably, they’re not meant to replace reading novels – they’re just a new form of entertainment.
Wattpad declines to share its user numbers, but says it has recorded over 2 billion “taps” to date. (A tap being the way you interact with the story to reveal the next line of text.)
With the introduction of Tap Originals, Wattpad is partnering with some of its top-tier writers on a commission basis in order to produce stories told in this new format across genres like suspense, horror and drama. The stories also won’t be told all at once. Instead, a new chapter will be released each week that continues the saga – something that makes the Tap Originals seem more like episodes of a TV show.
The concept for Tap Originals comes from the fact that we use our phones to communicate in other ways, beyond just texting. That means these new stories may interrupt their text-based storytelling with a video that shows a FaceTime video call from one of the main characters; or they may play a voice message, or add in other multimedia in between the back-and-forth text conversations.
The app itself and its stories are free, including the new Tap Originals, but it makes money through subscriptions. You can pay on either a weekly ($2.99), monthly ($7.99) or annual ($39.99) basis in order to read uninterrupted. Otherwise, the stories will pause at a cliffhanger, making you wait to find out what happens next.
At launch, there are just a handful of Tap Original titles available, including “The New Wife,” where a man receives Facebook messages from his dead wife; “Molly: The Returned,” which continues Tap’s earlier “Molly” saga about a missing girl; and “Hide: No Way Out,” the sequel to a popular Tap story, which involves strange noises from the attic.
The stories, like other Tap content, are available in over 10 languages and available in both the Tap iOS and Android applications.