Simplicity and ease of use is something that’s all too frequently overlooked when releasing a new app. For every Facebook or Vine, there’s always an app that has a great idea, but is overshadowed by complicated or confusing design. That’s why I was quite impressed with KnowMe. The thinking behind it is that anyone can create a story from their phones, and it’s simple enough that anyone can, within the space of a few minutes. It offers some fairly varied editing tools, but not once did I feel out of my depth when it came to piecing my video story together.
Given its background, that simplicity makes a lot of sense. The app was created by Andrew Jarecki, the Emmy-winning director of HBO’s The Jinx, as well as founder of Moviefone. With his experience in storytelling, it’s hardly surprising that this app is so focused on allowing you to tell your story, rather than having to worry about applying special effects to a creation.
Signing up is a matter of having a sign up code texted to you, before choosing an username. I was a little irrationally wary of sharing my phone number, but the code came through quickly enough. As soon as I dove into the app, I appreciated the wealth of options available. KnowMe’s home screen provides you immediately with featured KnowMes, giving you an indication of the kind of content you can create with it. Leave it running, and you’re automatically moved onto the next video. It’s a reasonable way of being inspired, as everything looks suitably achievable. The focus here isn’t on special effects or anything outlandish. Instead, KnowMe is about sharing your story, either through short videos, static images or music clips.
Scroll down from the Featured section, and you’ll find the Tips & Tricks section. Tutorials are usually pretty dry and dull, but KnowMe’s short, sharp nature meant that I actually bothered to pay attention to the advice offered. In each case, the tips given are useful, and offer you enough guidance to make you feel inspired to construct something similar.
Such guidance doesn’t end there either. Once you hit the blue button to make your own KnowMe, the simple interface continues to be intuitive and helpful. A quick video explains why you need to allow the app access to your microphone, photos and camera. It’s a fairly self explanatory reason, of course, but it ties in neatly with KnowMe’s newbie friendly approach. Even as an experienced iOS user, I felt myself a little more endeared toward the app, because it was so keen on being helpful.
Piecing together your video story is just as straight-forward, too. You can choose to record a new clip or use an image or video clip you already have saved on your phone. In either case, adding audio to the selection is a matter of holding your finger down on the thumbnail, then simply speaking into the iPhone. Instead of speaking, you can choose to add music, either a clip from the app itself, or importing your own music from a playlist. I’m uncertain of the legalities of the latter, but as there’s no way of monetizing content, ethically, it should be pretty harmless. Being able to use your downloaded music also happens to be a great way of illustrating a point, even if your video just ends up being a collection of favorite possessions, rather than anything deeper. You can ‘borrow’ content too, via a web image search, which is pretty useful at times, depending on what you’re creating.
Once you’ve finished creating your story, you can choose to share it publicly or privately. The former means all KnowMe users can check it out, while the latter means only those with the link you provide can view your creation. KnowMe’s privacy settings are suitably tight and straight-forward, much like the rest of the app.
That level of simplicity is what I believe will give KnowMe an edge in an overcrowded field. When creating content is that simple, it tempts you into creating more. It really didn’t feel like much more effort than tweeting. Most importantly, it was considerably easier than signing up to YouTube and dabbling in video editing there.
Where KnowMe falters is with its browsing support. Checking out featured KnowMes is easy enough, as well as certain categories already offered (such as a section devoted to food), but searching is dependent on knowing what you’re looking for. It’s rather basic and leaves you open to making mistakes. More categories would have been a real advantage here, or being able to add predefined tags to your videos. It’s also not possible to look for friends via Twitter or Facebook, which would be convenient. Instead, you can look people up from your contacts list, but that’s a fairly limited choice.
There’s time yet for such improvements to be made through an update, but KnowMe needs to implement them sooner rather than later to continue its momentum. There’s a lot about it to like and, despite the fact I don’t normally use many video recording apps, I’m keen to keep checking back. If the community is given all the tools it needs to develop, KnowMe could turn into something truly special.