Smartphones are great for sharing, and Windows Phone has a lot of sharing options built in. It's going to take a strong third party application to usurp these features, and while Funnel is a nice idea, it's not strong enough to replace the built in apps. But is it strong enough to complement them?
Version Reviewed: 220.127.116.11
One thing that the rise of the smartphone has allowed in the last few years is for an individual's creativity to be shared beyond the family dinner table. Humans tell stories, with whatever tools they have to hand, and giving everyone an always online computer, camera, and microphone, in their pocket has led to a fascinating explosion of riches. Funnel is a Windows Phone-based application (also on iOS) that takes the hardware tools and allows users to craft a story with them, before sharing the results online.
It all starts with a picture. Creating a new funnel will open up the photo picker in Windows Phone, as you can look for a picture you've already taken, or you can snap a new image with the camera. This is then brought into the Funnel application so you can annotate the picture.
Funnel's key principle here is to not restrict you to a single image to tell your story. Each post can be made up of multiple photos, each with their own captions to go alongside the image, or you can have the image stand on its own. The whole story can also have its own title and description.
Posts can also be gathered together in a scrapbook of stories - which is a file and folder system by any other name.
Once you're happy with your post (and you can save drafts of as many posts as you like till you are happy) the resulting posts can be uploaded to the Funnel website, either as public posts that can be found by anyone browsing the site, or as a private link you would need to share.
Sharing is also part of the Funnel app, with the ability to 'share' posts on other social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. While this sounds great in principle, you actually end up sharing just one picture, and a link back to Funnel's main website to see the full story.
While there's nothing wrong with that approach - and given the nature of Twitter Cards, and the options for displaying content on the other sites, pushing one picture and one block of text is the easiest option - it does leave me with an uneasy feeling that Funnel has been built as a 'social network to get users so we can make money' rather than 'here's a problem that needs solving'. Funnel does solve a problem - how can I be a better storyteller with the tools that I have in my pocket - but the answer raises another question... do I really need to sign up to another social network that can use my content for their own expansion? On the latter I'm not so sure.
Putting the business model question aside, Funnel is a nice idea which works (technically) very well. The presentation feels a little bare bones and in need of some flair. Storytelling should be exciting and Funnel doesn't help magnify the thrill of sharing. It needs a little bit more engagement to make me want to carry on using the application. They got over the hurdle of getting me to install the app, but they need to work on the second hurdle - should I open the app for a second time - because right now Funnel isn't doing it for me.
Your thoughts might differ, but I'm probably going to skip on Funnel and keep using the albums and collections features available on my existing apps and networks, rather than make the jump to another service that in all likelihood will be purchased and subsequently closed by a mega-network within eighteen months.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at