As a photographer…

I love iPhone photography. I have created and shared thousands of iPhone photos on my blog and social accounts, and that’s counting only the photos that make the “cut” for the public eye.

I also live far away from some of my close friends and family. As I’ve gotten older, and especially after I got a fur kid, I’ve been sharing more personal photos in private group chats. However, that experience is fleeting.

As a storyteller…

iOS Photos has had shared albums for years. I got to thinking: what if sharing photos could be richer and more meaningful? If the process could be fun like entering a diary entry or blog post?

Here is an idea that could be a new feature in iOS Photos, and potentially beyond. I named it Stories.

Some considerations:

  • How might we show a richer shared story/album experience?
  • Continue to respect the need for privacy, but allow public access to some stories
  • Could we make this experience fun and rewarding?

Caveat

I haven’t explored this idea end-to-end, but want to quickly validate it with a workflow and some mockups.

↑ Above: Sketches, interaction notes, and questions

Explorations

I sketched out some basic workflows based off what I already know. Messy and scribbly, they usually result in more questions.

A question I kept coming back to was “Why?” Photos already has “Memories” and can sort your photos magically by type and time. Why would this be useful?

Because photos without narratives are just photos. We need to tell stories for our friends who might not be right there with us to share.

So this is really about the need to go further than image assembly, to craft a story.

Design

I made a quick workflow of wireframes plus a bunch of high fidelity designs to illustrate the concept.

Examining existing structures and workflows (through Apple iOS design library) helped me think more deeply about already established interactions and conventions: when to sacrifice novelty for usability. I also don’t get to design too often for mobile these days, and it made this exercise a welcome challenge.

For most of the workflow, I kept to conventions, flexing small changes where necessary. However, for the new features suggested in the following single story layout, I decided to break away to show a warm humanist style, conveying the face-to-face quality of storytelling.

↑ Above: A quick animation to show how stories will live within a Shared Album.

I eventually settled on prioritising stories within Shared Albums because of their weighted importance against single photos.

If this were a real project, my next steps would be to check in with the design and engineering teams, refine, then organise a session with stakeholders to discuss options.

I would also extend interactions beyond the current mockups, and do a deeper check-in with established frameworks and systems to explore the feature end-to-end to see if it would hold up in broader, potentially cross-system scenarios.