Guardian launches storytelling audio app ‘Streetstories’
Guardian News & Media has launched a really interesting experimental mobile app for iPhone and Android, which is inspired by its London home of King’s Cross and the stories that surround the historic area of London.
The free mobile app – ‘King’s Cross, London – Streetstories’ is described as an immersive audio walking guide that automatically activates sounds, music and stories relevant to your GPS location as you walk through the streets of King’s Cross providing listeners with old and new tales from this part of London.
The app, which can be downloaded via 3G, initially features ten stories, though there is also a much larger version of the app, Streetstories Extra, available on iPhone which has over 70 stories and about two hours of audio material, downloadable via Wi-Fi. Users can also experience the app away from King’s Cross, by using it in manual mode rather than autoplay mode.
The app was the idea of Francesca Panetta, special projects editor in GNM’s multimedia department, who said the team came across a wealth of stories about the area during the project including how Charles Dickens lived there for some of his childhood and how Thomas Hardy worked as a trainee architect helping to clear bodies from St Pancras Old Church.
“And along York Way, where our building sits, you would have seen cattle being marched down the road from the Caledonian market, once the largest cattle market in Europe. More recently, King’s Cross was a mecca for thousands of clubbers, The Scala screened B-movies and horror films to devoted fans, and an old coal yard was transformed into a peaceful reserve, Camley Street Natural Park.
“We’ve been in Kings Place for a while now, but the project really helped us bond with the area, and we hope that others using the app will do too. Despite the chaos of construction and its reputation for prostitution and sleaze, Kings Cross is an area with an amazingly rich history, and a promising future. Already St Martin’s art school has moved into the old Granary building breathing new life into the area,” Panetta said.
Panetta adds that it’s a great example of how technology is helping the Guardian to tell stories in new ways, in this case experimenting with non-linear narratives.
The apps were produced in-house at the Guardian, and developed in partnership with Calvium, the Bristol-based company behind the AppFurnace app development engine.