Wonder Tools 🔖 The best new reading app
The easiest way to organize everything you read 👨🏫
Readwise Reader is the best new reading tool to arise since Google Reader died in 2013. You can use it to read newsletters, blogs, online articles you’ve saved, PDFs or anything else. It launched publicly last week and works superbly on the Web or as an app for iOS or Android. It’s free to try, then $7.99 monthly. I’ve been testing it for more than a year and now rely on it. Read on for its most useful features, my interview with the co-founder, and some reading app alternatives.
📨 A neat hub for reading
Reader makes it easy to subscribe to newsletters, blogs or whatever other RSS feeds you like. Rather than cluttering up your inbox with tons of email subscriptions, as I’ve been unfortunately doing for too long, you can now move those into Reader.
I’ve written before about other ways to manage and read newsletters. Reader is now my preferred method because it acts as a hub for anything I want to read, including saved articles, PDFs, and blogs. One exception: I don’t use it for books, because I like the Libby + Kindle app combo for finding & reading library books.
Reader’s founders shared a good features overview last week, after writing a manifesto last year about the need for a new reader app. Instapaper and Pocket have basically stopped improving their apps, so now’s the time for a newcomer.
Watch a demo of Reader in my interview with co-founder Daniel Doyon 👇
I interviewed Reader co-founder Daniel Doyon about why there’s a need for Reader, how he uses it, and how it differs from existing apps.
He showed me his reading flow, demonstrated new features, talked about the stagnation of Instapaper & Pocket, and shared thoughts on how Reader can help cope with content overload.
Listen to an audio version of the interview 🎧
Here’s the full transcript
🔦 Reader lets you highlight bits to remember
Reader’s highlighting feature makes it easy to save the best parts of everything you read. That’s useful for building a notes library you can return to when writing or researching. I draw on my highlights for writing, teaching and building presentations. You can synch highlights to your preferred note-taking tool or export them to your laptop.
Readwise’s prior app focused on aggregating and organizing highlights. Here’s my take on why it was so useful. I used it primarily for my Kindle highlights. Now, highlighting is built into Reader and it’s just one of the capabilities of this multipurpose reader.
🗃 Organize your reading material
Reader automatically sorts reads you’ve saved into useful collections so when you open it, you can read whatever suits you. These are adjustable categories, including:
Short Reads — pick something quick if you only have a minute
Long Reads — dive into a juicy longer piece on a comfy couch
Recently Added — catch up with things you’ve recently saved
Continue Reading — finish something you started earlier
Daily Digest — try something served up serendipitously from your library
🌊 A fluid way to read
Breeze through your reading list with keyboard shortcuts. Use quick keys on your laptop to forward things, highlight, add notes, tags and otherwise navigate through your reading queue. Swipe through on the mobile app. If you read a lot you’ll appreciate the ease of use.
📧 Email anything into your queue
Forward any email you get into your reading list. This is helpful when someone sends you a long document to read that you may have to highlight or take notes on. It’s also a great way to move newsletters you don’t have time for into your reading list for later. You can subscribe to newsletters directly in Reader, but if you prefer to sometimes read them by email, this provides a nice way to choose what you forward into Reader.
📺 Highlight YouTube videos
Reader’s newest feature lets you highlight the transcript of any YouTube video you’re watching. You can subscribe to a channel or just paste in an individual link. As you watch a video within Reader, you can highlight parts of the transcript to bookmark the most useful bits for future reference.
👍 Other cool features
Ask an AI assistant for insight. While reading you can press Shift-G to invoke a feature called Ghostreader. It will write up an article summary or generate study questions or flashcards to help you learn something new.
Listen to articles While walking, commuting or washing the dishes you can listen to what you’ve saved w/ text-to-speech at your preferred speed.
Import your archive of saved articles from Instapaper, Pocket or other apps, and/or bring in a list of RSS feeds from any reader you use.
Set up custom filters to organize collections of your favorite newsletters or writers, or coverage of a particular topic. These filters act like auto-updating folders. Here’s Reader’s video explaining how to set up filters.
Reader hasn’t brought in all features from Readwise’s prior highlighting app. So even though the apps share a database, you have to open a separate app to see and share all your highlights.
You can’t yet use Reader for podcasts. Many podcasts have YouTube versions, though, so you can import those as a workaround.
You can try Reader for free, after which it's $7.99 monthly. Pricing may change in 2023. For 50% off, students & teachers can email firstname.lastname@example.org
💻 Alternative Reading Apps
Readocracy acts like a Fitbit for your reading. Its browser plug-in keeps track of what you’ve read anywhere online. You can use it to highlight key passages and return to them later. You can also make and share collections of articles. I curated a collection of the media’s best-of-2022 lists you can add to. I’m experimenting with collections for classroom teaching.
The Sample lets you try out lots of newsletters. Subscribe for free with one click to any that you like. Based on your interests, The Sample sends something to your inbox daily. Just click to subscribe if you like it. Free.
Meco connects to your Gmail and lets you quickly and easily offload as many of your newsletter subscriptions as you’d like to its free reader for Web and iOS. If you don’t need Readwise’s features and just want an app to house the growing list of newsletters you read. Free.
Refind offers a minimalist take that I like. Just five links a day, on subjects you express interest in when you sign up. The smart curation introduces me to sources I wouldn’t otherwise encounter. Free.
Shortform has useful quick summaries of books. The smart curators tell you just enough to help you decide which books to put on your 2023 reading list.
Indie World creates a personalized feed of interesting writers/artists/curators on a variety of platforms. The founder describes it as “a stream of consciousness from the creators of the future.” Free online.
Join me for a live demo with Varia Research, a new journalism research tool Tue, Jan 10 at 1pm ET
Free lunch demo & workshop: Join founder Georg Horn and me, Jeremy, to see Varia in action. It’s designed to make online research more efficient for journalists. If you're tired of getting lost in 50 open browser tabs, or copy/pasting links into a Word Doc, Varia Research may interest you. RSVP
What it does: Varia Research integrates media monitoring and research organization into one machine learning powered solution. So you can follow all the sources you need in customizable feeds and store relevant content in smart dossiers: one story, one place.