What are your options when you want more than a 140-character tweet, but have no interest in maintaining a blog or building a website? Zapd, a free app for iPhone, lets people create mini-websites from their phones in about a minute.
The simple, blog-like sites are places to post images, text and links. For example, you can quickly create a "Zap," a site where everyone at a party can post their own photos and commentary. But you can also use it to chronicle a hobby without the risk of overwhelming friends' Instagram or Pinterest feeds. A Zap can hold a few hours a few hours' worth of stories or those collected over a lifetime.
The company recently released an updated version that includes collaboration among friends (the previous version allowed only the account-holder to post), as well as a newsfeed to help users discover sites created by others.
While Zapd's easy posting features aresimilar to Tumblr's , a Zap resides at its own Web address and is unassociated with other users' content. Sharing is as simple as sending a link to a family member that they can open and view in a single page without having to learn to navigate a new platform. Zaps can only be created on a smartphone, but can be viewed on any Internet-connected device.
How to make a Zap
No design experience or coding is required to create a Zap. To get started, open the app, tap the three-bar navigation icon and tap "My Zaps." Choose a theme from one of nearly 50 options, such as a striking black background or one with a folksy gingham border.
While all themes will automatically adjust to the screen they're viewed on, Zapd has added two groups that scale up better for screens larger than those on smartphones. Six grid themes are available that show a single column of picture and text blocks when viewed on a phone, but up to three column blocks when displayed on a tablet or computer, much like Pinterest. Marquee themes have a large cover image at the top and smaller ones below, similar to a Facebook Timeline page .
There are three post types: text, link and photo. You can take pictures in the app or pull them in from your iPhone's camera roll. You can do simple edits, such as applying filters and cropping. (Zapd uses Aviary, TND's top pick mobile photo editing app .) Descriptions can be added to photos or placed in their own text-only boxes.
Zapd offers a simple on-off privacy option found under "Settings." When privacy is switched on, a "cryptic string" is added to the Zap's URL, which would make guessing the address very difficult to do. Only those you share the link with would be able to view the website. Turn privacy off and the extra string of characters is dropped. When privacy is on, your website URL looks like this: http://kelly-smith.zapd.com/vintage-porschesTy3cFPQtm; turn it off and its shortened to this: http://kelly-smith.zapd.com/vintage-porsches.
Once you've created a Zap, you can choose to send the link to your Twitter or Facebook account, along with emailing the URL to others.
Zapd is available for iPhone in the App Store, and an Android app is under consideration.