Office has a new app in the family: Sway, a new way to share stories and ideas directly from your phone.
Microsoft’s Sway was announced back in October and remains invite only, but the company opened up the preview to New Zealand users this week. Sway is touted as a way for “expressing your ideas in an entirely new way, across your devices.”
When you first launch Sway, you might be surprised by how simplistic it is for a Microsoft product. There are few buttons or options other than simply ‘create your own Sway.’
Once you’ve created a blank Sway, you’re able to add photos and text to start building the actual story. I grabbed photos and text from my iPhone review a few weeks back as it seemed like the perfect content for Sway.
Building a Sway is dead simple; there are only four options to add things. You can import photos from the gallery, take a new picture, add blocks of text or add a header. Once you’ve added your content, it’s as simple as hitting the ‘view’ button to generate what the Sway will actually look like.
In view mode you’re given the option to change the ‘mood’ of your Sway, which offers a variety of different layouts and designs for your story. There are only a handful right now, but Sway’s website says there will be more available soon.
Once your Sway is ready, you can share it with the world via a link to the story. Here’s what our iPhone 6 Sway looks like – note the animations and attention to detail. Sway makes the story responsive, so it’ll load on any device and it can be embedded anywhere you like on the web like you can see at the end of this story.
Microsoft has done a great job with Sway, making story telling accessible and easy, without the need to have a blog or to know how to publish online.
There are, however, competitors in this space like Storehouse that help tell stories in similar ways with a similar mobile-first experience but offers more granular options as well as richer photo/video support.
I’ve used Storehouse previously for road trips and love how unique the stories you can create are. I’m not sure Sway has enough in this area to make me use it over Storehouse right now, but it’s promising.
It’ll be interesting to see how Microsoft attempts to compete in this space in the future; Sway is only in its early days and is an impressive first step for the company.