What is Oolipo – Guest Post by Sarah Royal

Sarah - @royal8881

I am Sarah Royal. I write on Wattpad, Radish and am also about to publish on TAPAS in the coming weeks. Here, in this article, I’d like to tell you about my experience with Oolipo.

I’m currently beta testing the app. To become a volunteer beta phase creator check out this link and apply. However, alternatively you can wait a bit longer for the app to have the story telling tools available for everyone. I am not sure of the date they would launch that, but it’s soon since feedback from beta testers must have been used for improving the tools and making it public.

You may ask why I am writing about this app in this guest blog post. Well, I am simply very interested in different book-related apps that have revolutionised the experience of writers and readers in this decade. I love how apps like Oolipo make books accessible to a wider group of readers since they allow access to free content as well as allowing writers to earn money by offering the option of delivering paid content alongside the free works.

Oolipo is a new, exciting app that launched its beta phase in summer of 2017 for iPhone and as of 14th of September the Android beta phase version is also launched. Oolipo are currently accepting applications from users who would like to create multimedia interactive stories using their app. I filled the application in August and am currently testing their beta phase on a website that has creating tools. So you can’t actually create stories on the app. There is a website where you create the stories and you can see how they look on the app.

The way you create stories on Oolipo is quite unique. You create episodes and when reading on the app, you flip through the episodes by sliding or tapping. When creating an episode, you choose a background image first. I use Pixabay images for this. I have a folder on my computer just for saving images on Pixabay that match the books that I have written on other platforms. After inserting the image of your choice that matches the particular scene you are writing about, you can insert your text and then depending on your preference you can even add sounds or videos. It’s visual storytelling but with text and sound too. So we should call it multimedia storytelling, really.

But what is impressive is how many styles you can have in presenting your writing. If you are someone who appreciates innovative approaches to writing, you will really love and enjoy creating stories and reading on the app. The full functions of the app will be running later on so you get a sneak peak of what’s to come if you check the app now. If you download the app now, you will get just a few stories available to read, but there will be much more soon.

The first time I heard of Oolipo was on Twitter. Then I went on to follow the app’s pages on Facebook and Instagram too. When I followed Oolipo on Twitter, they did reach out. I think when an app or a website interacts with its fans or prospective users through social media, it shows it has potential to succeed. All successful apps have strong social media presence in my view. So the fact that they replied to my questions really impressed me. They value every user and that is a major pulling factor.

If you check the Oolipo Twitter page, you will notice that their joining date was in 2015. From my understanding, the Oolipo founders initiated the idea in Autumn 2015 and around one year later the team created the alpha version of the app in August 2016. So I was blown away by that they have been perfecting this product for years now for us to access the beta version in 2017. The app doesn’t crash and has no glitches while I have been using it. So this tells me that the team creating and managing Oolipo have had the aim to create a perfect product before launching it as a business model which is quite unique. Other reading apps I know of simply launch, get users, crash, and most of the time of their technical team of engineers is spent on fixing the technical glitches and bugs instead of developing the app further. So the founders have a vision that they won’t release the app unless it’s perfect. I find it hard to grasp the patience of the founders and their dedication in creating the perfect app. They had the initiative since 2015, they released an alpha test version in 2016 and now we see the beta version which is at testing stage.

When I use the current app, it runs smoothly and I don’t see why they don’t just launch it as it is. They want too much perfection I guess.

When I checked Oolipo’s Instagram page, it made more sense to me why Oolipo has this vision that they have. Their headquarters is in Berlin and based on the pictures on the Instagram page, I’d say the app was born in Germany. Well, I am a fan of German products. I love any technical and non-technical products that I have ever purchased that were made and developed by German-based companies as they have always been perfect and paid attention to detail with what they created. German-based companies either don’t create it or if they do, they make it perfect. So Oolipo is made in Germany and it has to live up to its fellow native born quality products. I have never purchased a faulty German product in my life. No, I am not German. I have never been to Germany, but I might actually attend an Oolipo workshop in Berlin one day. They do run workshops for using their app to create episodes for anyone interested, but the places are limited, of course. If you live nearby, it may be worth contacting Oolipo to see if they have any available dates for the next workshop, but you might need to join as a beta tester to be able to attend.

Now, I don’t think it’s fair for me to show screenshots of the create page that I use for creating Oolipo episodes as a beta tester because I think they’d like to keep developing their app. So if you want to see how you can create an Oolipo episode to make it look like stories on the app, check the link on top of this post. They will keep developing the app by using your feedback as beta testers when you join their forums which you will also get access to when you sign up. So you will be joining an Oolipo community as a beta tester and will not just be a solo creator. But as I mentioned earlier, the tools will go public soon. So you can wait for that instead of becoming a beta tester like me. I just love testing out apps and am excited about innovations.

I think the kind of storytelling Oolipo does is quite futuristic and engaging for all age groups. I really have faith in them to make their product better and better. When I open the app and read one of the few books available, it feels like I am watching a movie at times. It’s so entertaining to read this way.

I really like to transfer my own stories that I’m writing on other platforms into Oolipo app format. It may take a while because even though it’s simple to make episodes on the website, it’s time consuming, and we, as creators, must actually put some thought behind the special effects that we insert into the episodes to go alongside the writing. At first, I wasn’t sure if my books would be suitable to be converted to the format that the app offers, but I feel like I wouldn’t know unless I try it.

So why not give it a try?

You never know. You may love it and if you don’t love it, drop a line to the team on social media and give feedback. They are one of the very few apps I know who love feedback and encourage it.

I think my feedback for Oolipo is that they should just launch the full app as it is since it’s so good already. It works well. It doesn’t crash and that’s the main factor for users to have a good experience when using the app. They will have plenty of readers and I am sure many sponsors will express interest in investing in the app to make it bigger. Surely, us users will support the app if they introduced advertising within the app too. It is very exciting to be a volunteer beta tester for the app. It is very fun and entertaining to use the app.

Thank you for reading this article. For more information on the app, contact Oolipo on any of their social media platforms:

Dilyana’s Note: For more from Sarah, check out her March guest post about another writing app – Radish.

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