Storehouse: how to kill a great app
It's been my favourite app for months. Wonderfully easy to use, a clever way of creating rich, visual stories based on a combination of photography, video and text. It offered a really intuitive way of creating shareable content on mobile, with the ability to display and interact across multiple devices.
Now, with Storehouse 2.0, a lot has changed. Here Mark Kawano, Storehouse's CEO, describes the most important changes in a blog post:
"We removed almost all of the social media features including followers, hashtags, republishing, and the timeline. When you launch Storehouse 2.0, you’ll now see just the stories you’ve created. And when you create a new story, it will only be visible to you until you decide how you want to share it. You can still share stories by text, email, or on social media. Within the app, however, you will no longer be able to view other people’s stories unless they’ve shared them with you in a space."
And that's precisely is the problem. I've created several stories, but discovered hundreds more, a lot of which I stumbled across by accident, based on somebody else's recommendations.
And that - apart from the wonderfully easy way of creating and sharing visually rich, yet aesthetically clean stories - was the key element of the app, guaranteeing its prominent home screen place on my iPhone. Now the serendipity is gone and so is the app's magic. It's become cumbersome and I feel somebody's idea of creating a 'private' space, a less social social app killed what was best about Storehouse: a seamless user experience. I'll go a bit further: it probably killed a really promising app, so eagerly embraced by almost a million users: mobile journalists, photographers, filmmakers and anyone who wanted to share a great visual story.
So what else - apart from removing the social features and the serendipity factor (that apparently - according to Kawano - "intimidated [users] from posting anything at all') is different, what else makes the app annoying? It's called
"A space is a private way to share stories with a group of friends. You can create spaces for a vacation, an event, a place you visit frequently, or any topic that you’re passionate about. You have to be invited into a space to know about it and the owner of a space can decide whether or not members can add their own stories as well."
I don't want to join dozens of 'spaces' to see what I previously saw without much effort. Let alone receive hundreds of annoying and irrelevant notifications I cannot manage or turn off.
And what happens to the endless stream of invites to new spaces I don't want to join? How do I say no? It's either 'join' or, well, nothing. And there they are, dozens of invites to spaces I don't want to join (no, I'm not interested in "Cats, of course" or "Show me your lighthouse"), taking up space and increasing my frustration.
Before v2.0, whenever I wanted to see or like a cat or lighthouse story, I chose to do so. It was maybe one story in a thousand, but I liked it or otherwise engaged with it because something caught my eye, or someone recommended it. Now it feels like to see a story I need to join a space and then be bombarded with other stories within that space I have no interest in. Completely ludicrous.
And even if I bought into the whole concept of spaces, inviting new users is cumbersome, time-consuming and probably annoying for those being invited, who, like me, have to deal with endless invites and have no way of rejecting them.
I've been supporting Storehouse for a long time now, and singing the app's praises to friends, clients and random people on social media. I want to continue doing that and I will wait for the next update.
But unless some of the old functionality is restored, I cannot guarantee I'll be doing that for much longer.
And soon that home screen spot on my iPhone will be available to another app whose creators choose not to tip the baby out with the bathwater. Storehouse, over to you.