Get This App: Snapguide

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When my parents both got iPhones, I became their de-facto support technician. Dad needed to know how to send text messages and use FaceTime. Mom wanted to know how to log out of her Twitter app and why her phone kept prompting her about something called iCloud.

I spent a lot of time explaining how things worked, which was complicated, because neither of my parents have a solid grasp of tech terminology. When I said something like “Make sure you’re using HTTPS in your browser,” or “That’s an application intended for enterprise users,” what they heard was something akin to the noise Charlie Brown hears when his teacher is talking.

Browsing through Snapguides tutorials.

The next time they ask a question, I’m just going to enlist the extremely handy Snapguide app to create a quick how-to guide. Snapguide, a free iOS app with a sister Web service, provides an easy template for creating a detailed how-to guide using photos and videos captured by your phone.

To get started, you just sign in with an email address, Facebook account, or Twitter account and tap the Create tab. From there, you can title your guide; Snapguide has a How To menu that suggests shortcuts such as “Cook,” “Fix,” “Play,” or “Make.” Next, you hit the green Add + Step button to start your guide, which lets you include text, pictures, audio comments, and video as part of your tutorial. Steps can easily be edited, rearranged, or deleted. Once you’re done, your guide can be posted to Snapguide and shared via email, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Jump to a Step shows all the steps within a guide.

If you’d rather learn than teach, there’s also the option to simply browse the broad list of guides that other Snapguide members have created. Guides fall into 17 categories, which range from Pets to Technology. You can find everything from “How to Make Garlic Bread” and “How to Fix High Heels” to “How to Get Glue Off Glass Jars” and “How to Stretch After Working Out.”

The app lets you search and browse the database of guides by title, topic, popularity, and recency. Each guide also includes a list of supplies you’ll need to complete the tutorial, and you can hit the Jump to a Step button in the upper right corner of the app to get an overview of all the steps in a guide. You can also leave a comment on each step of a guide or on the guide as a whole, and each guide can be ”Liked” by clicking the heart button.

Watching a how-to guide on Snapguide.

The app, which has a familiar, Pinterest-type feel, also has an unobtrusive social component: You can see who has liked a guide, view profiles of other Snapguide users, follow members, send private messages, and connect your Snapguide feed to your Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest account. There’s also an Activity tab that displays a reel of what SnapGuide members are liking and posting.

However, the real highlight is the design of the guides themselves. They’re clearly laid out and load fairly quickly, with color photos, video, and explanatory text that provide easy-to-follow instructions. Because the app is optimized for smaller screens, photos and video clips can be enlarged.

So far, there’s no option to create private tutorials and no plans for an Android version of the app, which is a shame because Snapguide deserves to be used by more people. After all, the more guides that are created, the more of a resource Snapguide becomes.

Developer: Heavy Bits, Inc.
Platforms: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad
Price: Free

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