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Microsoft’s Sprightly app lets you create professional designs from your smartphone

TechCrunch TechCrunch 7/06/2016 Sarah Perez

Microsoft is taking on Adobe Spark Post and startups like Canva with its new app Sprightly, available today on iOS. Similar to its competitors, the app promises an easy way for smaller businesses to quickly create and design content like fliers, coupons, catalogs, price lists, e-cards and more, as well as quickly share them across social media.

Sprightly is a product emerging from Microsoft’s internal incubator and R&D outfit dubbed Microsoft Garage.

The app was previously available on Android, where it launched earlier this year. However, with the iOS debut, the company is promising an expanded collection of templates with more colors and styles than it offered before.

The app itself is simple enough to use – you either snap a photo or upload one from your gallery, browse the catalog of templates to choose the one you need, and customize your design. You can then share your creation on social media, email it, or even send it out a print-ready PDF.

While remarkably similar in concept to Adobe Spark and Canva, Sprightly has a slightly narrower core focus.

Adobe and Canva have grown to be especially popular with social media managers who need a quick way to create graphics for use on various social media platforms, and all their different image size requirements. The apps are also used among smaller to medium-sized businesses, when professional-looking graphics are needed, but without the fees associated with hiring a pro designer.

Sprightly, too, aims at democratizing design, but is especially targeting smaller retailers who engage with customers on social media. That’s why its templates include those sellers in particular would need – like price lists, catalog pages, coupons, and tools to create product collages, among other things.

And Sprightly isn’t just trying to solve the on-the-go challenge of easier graphic creation – it’s also trying to offer a tool for those whose smartphones or mobile devices are their primary, if not their only, means of working. That means developing markets are in Sprightly’s crosshairs.

In Microsoft’s announcement about the launch, for example, the company offered a testimonial from Sanjana Shah, a Fanzart franchise owner based in Hyderabad, India. (Fanzart makes designer ceiling fans.)

“Every image, every catalog would come from the head office, which would take nearly one month for it to get updated,” said Shah. “But now with Sprightly, I’m able to click immediate pictures of all the fans here on display, make a price list, make a catalog of the same and send it across to clients. It’s been a real great problem solver.”

Microsoft Garage puts out a lot of experimental apps to gauge customer reaction, including Sprightly. However, while some apps are fairly innovative – like its Word Flow keyboard that introduces a different way to type – others seem to crib from other applications on the market. For instance, News Pro, seems a bit like Apple News or SmartNews, and Plumbago takes on Microsoft’s own OneNote. Sprightly falls in this latter category, given its conceptual similarity to established players in the design space.

That doesn’t mean the app isn’t worth checking out, but it may be worth testing the competing apps as well, to see which actually fits your own needs the best.

Sprightly is a free download on the App Store and Google Play.

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