It should come as no surprise that here at MakeUseOf we love how-to guides. We love creating them, sharing knowledge, solving problems and discovering new ways to accomplish difficult tasks. If you need a tech-related how-to, and we’ve not covered it then try asking nicely and we’ll see what we can do.
Now iPhone users who are just as thirsty for knowledge as we are can learn and share their top secret top tips with the rest of the world thanks to a new free App Store release called SnapGuide. The app is built with consumption and creation in mind, and welcomes how-to guides on a huge variety of topics.
SnapGuide is a very useful app to have on your iPhone. In addition to being a great boredom killer, the app provides quick access to a large library of guides while away from a PC. All guides featured on the service have in fact been created using the SnapGuide app, and this means reading and creating content works in a way that’s optimized for your iPhone’s screen and touch input. In addition to this, guides are also published to the web at snapguide.com/guides.
To really get the most from SnapGuide you should register an account, which is easily accomplished within the app by tapping the Me tab. Registration is optional, which means you don’t have to give up your Facebook, Twitter or email credentials in order to see what the fuss is all about.
Recently I’ve noticed that an increasing number of apps require registration before much of the app’s functionality is open to you (Piictu and Meeps to name but two), and the approach taken by the developers behind SnapGuide is far more agreeable in my opinion – now I actually want to register.
Behind the scenes SnapGuide vaguely resembles Twitter, and once you’ve registered you can follow authors, save guides for later and produce your own. There’s even an activity stream and messaging service which adds the social aspect that so many of us expect (and demand) from apps these days.
Exploring Guides & Learning
Upon launching the SnapGuide app you will be greeted with a selection of featured guides on the Featured tab, and these are essentially staff picks. Featured items change on a regular basis and – being staff picks – are some of the better and quirkier how-to guides on the service.
To really get started exploring the app head over to the Explore tab where you’ll see two tabs – Featured and Recent – as well as a magnifying glass in the top right corner for searching. Considering the service is currently only aimed at the iPhone market (no other apps exist for competing platforms) the popular guides are often iOS-centric, but there’s a good mix of topics overall.
Tap a guide and you’ll be taken to the guide view, which displays each step in the guide as a separate slide. To navigate simply swipe left and right to view the next and previous steps. If you would like to add a comment to a particular step then just tap the speech bubble in the bottom left, or if you feel that something isn’t quite right then you can flag it with the ellipsis “…” in the bottom right corner.
Swiping upwards from the bottom of the screen at any point in the guide brings up the all-important list of supplies required. These can range from “patience” and “a steady hand” to a detailed list of tools, software, ingredients and materials.
Predictably, the heart at the top centre of the screen adds the guide to your list of likes and the Jump To button shows the guide, in its entirety, on a grid. The app is responsive and pleasant to navigate which is important because some of the guides can be quite complex, and at no point do you feel like you’re fighting the UI or app in any way.
Sharing Your Own Guides
That oh-so-inviting Create button is the first step towards sharing your own guide with the SnapGuide community. You’ll first be asked to title the guide, and oddly enough the app provides suggestions for this field.
You’ll then see your title card and an empty supplies list, as well as the orange Next button at the top of the screen and the green Add + Step button at the bottom. Supplies can be added using precise measurements, quantities, fractions and decimals – particularly handy if you’re composing a recipe or a guide that has little room for error when it comes to materials.
Start building your guide by tapping Add + Step and you’ll be asked if you would like to add photos, videos or just text to your project. Text steps can only contain 200 characters and video or picture steps can also include a 200 character description, making SnapGuide light on text and heavy on photo and video content.
Each photo or video you take will be added as a separate step, which means you can quickly snap all of your steps in one go, add short descriptions as captions and publish in very little time at all.
Once you’re done adding media, descriptions and all necessary steps hit the orange Next button at the top of the screen to publish your guide. Here you will be given the option of changing the cover photo before hitting the Publish button and enlightening the world.
SnapGuide is the ideal boredom killer for people who enjoy learning new things. It also has the potential to be a very useful app on the go. Everything from changing bicycle brake pads to instructions for cleaning a bad cut is available, and the library of knowledge is only set to grow.
Creating guides is surprisingly satisfying, and the simplistic author process makes me want to do it multiple times. If you love Instructables, crowd-sourcing and are always showing your friends how to do things then you’ll love SnapGuide.
Download: SnapGuide @ App Store
What do you think of SnapGuide? Have you made any guides? Have you found anything particularly interesting? Let us know in the comments, below.