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December 10, 2013

Nokia Storyteller – it’s emotional

“The difficulty is that, despite having more cameras to hand than ever before, we don’t get the same emotional resonance from our digital photos that we used to get from printed pictures,” says Michiel Terlouw from Nokia Design.


Michiel led the team who worked on the design of the new Nokia Storyteller app, together with most of the other Nokia imaging apps released over the last year. Nokia Storyteller was released in Beta form simultaneously on the new Nokia Lumia 2520 and Lumia 1520.

“The product came out of ethnographic research that Nokia has been conducting with smartphone users across the world.”

“Today’s phones have put good quality cameras into everyone’s hands, and we’re taking more pictures than ever before. But people feel there’s something missing,” continues Michiel.

“There’s a lack of emotional connection with the pictures we take,” adds his colleague Annina Koskinen, who also worked on the user experience design of the app.

“Getting a set of prints in an envelope and sharing them with friends used to be an event, back in the old days. But we no longer have that feeling about digital imagery.”


Reconnecting with pictures

Nokia Storyteller aims to turn pictures back into events again, to allow people to tell stories about important moments in their lives using their smartphone pictures, by helping to organise them and by providing more context.

Unlike the native camera roll app on Windows Phone, Storyteller groups your pictures automatically using time and location as organising principles.


If you went to a wedding a few months ago, for example, and want to share your pictures with friends,it is really easy to pick them out at a later date. And the group becomes a discrete event, rather than just part of the continual flow of images on your phone.

Taking feedback

“When we tested the app with users,” says Annina, “they challenged us to do more innovative things with the way photos are displayed, but they also reminded us that we didn’t need to replicate everything that the Photos hub does.”

“Video playback is a good example” says Michiel. “In the normal camera roll, when you come to a video, you need to hit the play button and that causes a delay. With Storyteller, we designed it so that it starts playing them immediately. It’s a fairly small thing, but it makes storytelling seamless and more enjoyable.”

Emotional metadata

The location element is an organising principle, but it also helps to enrich the stories you can tell. Your day out in Paris, for example, can become a deeper story when you can show people where the restaurant was, or tell them the name of the church in the background. You can effectively retrace your steps across the city as you tell your story.

The team is working to extend the extra information that your pictures can carry and be re-remembered as you tell people about them, or sift through your own memories. The story of Storyteller has only just begun.


image credits: Annina Koskinen (notebooks); JE Millais’ Boyhood of Raleigh