Reuters employs a small army of photojournalists who produce thousands of stunning images each year. The Wider Image is an iPad-only app designed to show off the agency’s photography as well as the stories behind all the pictures. The first thing you see on launching the app is a large grid with tiles of photos labelled with the name of a city or region. You can scroll to the right to show more, and the text labels fade away after a few seconds leaving you with just the images.
The grid of thumbnails leading into the stories
The stories and photos encompass all kinds of subjects such as tribal rituals, mass protests, social issues, urban development, natural disasters and anything of historical significance. Tapping any of them opens up a page with one large cover photo, a brief text description along with details such as the date and photojournalist’s name, and any of a number of extra elements such as slideshows, videos, infographics and, of course, text. Scroll left or right to move between stories, or up and down to reveal more of the photo essay. A column on the left lets you jump to the non-text elements of each essay. Most of the text is written in the form of first-person accounts of what it was actually like to be in the situations in which the photographers found themselves, putting them in context. Some of the photo essays are a little disturbing, such as one about violent racist attacks in Greece, which shows a victim’s scars and includes a candid interview with him recounting how he got each of his injuries but also explains the economic and social reasons for what is being called an immigration crisis. On the other hand, another photo essay profiles young ladies in London preparing for a debutante ball, including details of their gowns, etiquette training and the role of aristocratic English traditions in today’s society.
Each story is a photo essay with stunning images and explanatory text
The 'Explore' section pulls up a timeline with the same photo essays painstakingly arranged by date. The entries cover events going as far back as 2010. You can also change the view to browse by location, photographer or theme. Pinch to zoom in or out on a world map and you’ll see stories arrange themselves as you move around. Hundreds of photojournalists are presented in alphabetical order, and their individual profile pages include their favourite shot, a brief description and an interview which draws you in to their own stories and backgrounds. Of course, their preferred cameras and equipment are also listed.
The ‘My View’ section contains a list of all the stories you’ve marked as favourites and the locations and photojournalists you’ve chosen to follow. There’s also a history section to help you dig out something you might have seen and liked. At each step you can see detailed statistics of the locations where stories take place, including metrics about the population, education levels, armed forces, environmental status, gender equality and even Internet penetration for context. The app detects where you are and shows you the statistics in contrast to your own location.
Well-presented contextual image helps frame each story
Finally, stories you like can be shared via email links. The app creates a neatly formatted email with a cover image and description of your chosen story along with a link to the Apple App Store. You can’t share individual images from within a story, which is disappointing but also helps keep the experience as it was intended.
The stories and images presented in this app are truly amazing and will open you up to new experiences and awareness of what’s going on in the world—whether it’s pretty or ugly; heart-breaking or inspiring. It’s designed well and you can spend ages flicking through from one story to the next.
Download the app for iOS here.
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