Galatea: Is This App the Future of Reading?
Reading platform Inkitt has branched out into multimedia experiences with their new immersive reading app, Galatea. Is this app giving us a glimpse into the future?
What is Galatea?
Inkitt's latest attempt to shake up the reading market is their new app, Galatea. They take successful stories from their original platform, then use their team of creators and screenwriters to adapt it for a sort of 4D reading experience. Books on Galatea employ visual effects, thematic music, carefully timed sound effects, and even vibrations to create an immersive reading experience.
Authors are not able to add their stories to the site or create their own "experiences", but are exclusively chosen by Inkitt's story producers from a selection of their most popular stories.
What it's Like to Use the App
Most stories on Galatea start with music and/or scenic sound effects. Some character actions are enhanced with timed sound effects like doors opening or someone sighing. At first, it feels strange and a bit funny, but begin to become accustomed to it after a few chapters.
On occasion, visual effects will appear like bursts of color, smoke, or font changes. As a reader, these are fun surprises . Their use of text message imagery and sound effects is particularly effective and adds to the immersion.
However, there is room for improvement in story design. music was at times poorly paired and felt wrong for the moment. Some sound effects, especially human groans and moans, felt humorous and jarring. Others just didn’t hit the mark, like running sounds that sounded like a slow jog. As a reader, these mismatches pull you out of the experience a bit.
Overall, the experience itself is interesting and fun, and could easily be a great middle ground medium between the page and the screen.
Galatea Still Has Kinks to Work Out
Execution at this point is Galatea’s weakness. The stories work well, but outside of stories the app is glitch-ridden and plagued with design issues. Text often runs over buttons or other text and is frequently cut off. Instead of using the typical right-to-advance, left-to-go-back style of navigation, they use the bottom to advance, the middle to go back, and the top to access the menu. It's the opposite of intuitive user design.
Unlike alternatives Wattpad and AO3, interaction is mostly limited to comments on time-locked chapter waiting pages (which are usually about the wait instead of the story). There are otherwise very limited ways to interact with the story.
Authors are also practically nonexistent on the platform. Book covers feature "Galatea" where you'd expect the author's name to be. The summary page of a book with list the "original author”, but doesn’t have any link to information on the author or their other work. There don't even seem to be the equivalent of author profiles either, something which their competitor Webnovel has been chastised for.
Their current pricing structure seems unrealistic. Individual stories are broken up into multiple “books” of around 15-20 short chapters, and can cost upwards of $60 to purchase in entirety. By contrast, their yearly unlimited plan is just $59.99. This may be an attempt to encourage users to sign up for the unlimited plan, but it still seems a bit unrealistic.
If you don’t want to pay for new chapters, you can wait 6 hours between chapters, which many users find to be frustrating. You can't just wait 12 hours to read two chapters either, as they only unlock as you read them.
Should You Try Galatea?
The short answer is: maybe. The first few chapters of most stories are free, so we recommend taking a look around and seeing what you think. If you like it, it's definitely worth committing to the yearly plan to get the most value for your money. If you find that it's not for you, you may be better off waiting to try it again once Galatea perfects their app and pricing strategy.
Have you tried Galatea? Let us know what you think in the comments...