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Posts tagged with "read it later"

GoodLinks Review: A Flexible Read-it-Later Link Manager Packed with Automation Options

The original crop of read-it-later apps that date back to the earliest days of the App Store were based on web services maintained by the developers of those apps. Apps like Instapaper and Pocket, the two biggest names in the space, have always been backed by web services that integrate tightly with native apps across Apple’s platforms. It’s a model that worked, and although those apps have continued to evolve and change with regular updates over the years, new entrants into the category were few and far between in this once hyper-competitive category – until now.

Thanks to relatively recent changes to Apple’s OSes, a new generation of read-it-later apps are emerging. They no longer need to run their own web services and are leveraging the latest OS technologies in new and interesting ways. One of the very best is GoodLinks, a new read-it-later app and link manager released today by Ngoc Luu, the developer of the well-known text editor 1Writer.

GoodLinks' main UI.

GoodLinks’ main UI.

Since returning to Reeder for the RSS feeds I follow, I’ve been using its read-it-later service, which is terrific. We’ve also covered apps like Abyss and Readit in MacStories Weekly. Like GoodLinks, those apps use iCloud sync to keep articles you save synced across all the devices they support instead of using a developer-maintained web service. That’s a relatively new development for these sorts of apps, but the difference in this new generation of read-it-later apps runs deeper. New features of the OSes on which GoodLinks runs have breathed new life into the category, and its developer has taken advantage of these features to provide new utility to users.

Having settled into a comfortable Reeder workflow, I didn’t expect the way I manage links to be upended anytime soon. However, that’s exactly what has happened since I began using GoodLinks. What grabbed me is a versatility that stems from the fluidity of getting links into the app, managing them, and getting them out again. There’s built-in flexibility to GoodLinks that allows it to adapt exceedingly well to a wide variety of use cases. As with any 1.0 app, there’s room for improvement, but my wishes for GoodLinks are just that: wishes borne of enthusiasm for a terrific app that has quickly found its way into my daily workflow. Let’s dig into the details.

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Keep Review: The Read-Later App I’ve Been Looking For

After years of happily using Safari’s Reading List and Apple News’ Saved Stories for all my read-later needs, recently I found myself facing a conundrum: there were too many articles saved in each place, and thus I needed a categorization system that neither Safari nor News provide. This problem is of course partly my fault, since I’m clearly not adequately working through my reading queue.1 But I’m not at all willing to nuke these interesting stories and start fresh with zero saved links. Thus, I’ve been on the hunt for a read-later app that better meets my new needs.

If there’s one lesson this journey has taught me, it’s that read-later apps are just like task managers and email clients: there’s no perfect one-size-fits-all approach. Developers and users all have their own ideas about how such an app should best function, so there’s no perfect option out there. After a long search, however, I’ve found the app that comes as close to ideal for me as possible: Keep by developer Michael Zsigmond, which is available for iPhone, iPad, and also offers a web client.

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Unread 2 Review: The Elegant RSS Client Leaps into Modernity

Unread has always been one of my favorite RSS clients due to its clean, elegant, gesture-based design, but as competing apps have continued advancing at a steady pace, Unread’s development stalled leading up to its acquisition in 2017 by Golden Hill Software. Since that time, the app has received new life in the form of regular updates, but nothing on the level of what’s debuting today.

Unread 2, on one hand, brings a lot of change and propels the beloved RSS client into the present. It does this, however, with almost no design changes. Unread 2 looks and feels just like Unread 1, but with more power and a roster of modern features under the hood.

If Unread wasn’t the app for you before, then version 2 almost certainly won’t change your mind. But if you already appreciated the elegant RSS reader, Unread 2 provides a lot more reasons to love it.

There are so many big and small upgrades in Unread 2, for my review I’ve chosen to break its noteworthy improvements into three different categories: RSS, iPad, and OS features.

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Fiery Feeds Adds iCloud Accounts, Three-Pane iPad View, New Customization Tools, and More

Fiery Feeds, the modern, flexible RSS client for iOS, was updated today with a variety of new features that take the app to new heights: enabling iCloud-based accounts for RSS and Read Later so you don’t need third-party services, adding a three-pane layout on iPad, offering new, configurable methods for navigation, and a lot more. There’s something for everyone, from users who may be new to RSS to Fiery Feeds veterans who will appreciate the additional power offered here.

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Instapaper Relaunches Premium Service as a Paid Subscription and Returns to the EU

When Instapaper Premium was introduced, it was a paid subscription that added several advanced features to the service. Later, the app and service were purchased by Pinterest, and Instapaper Premium was made available for free to all users.

Last month, Instapaper announced that it was separating from Pinterest and becoming an independent company. Today Instapaper, which turned 10 years old this year, outlined a plan for sustaining the service for the next 10 years. At the heart of Instapaper’s plan is a return to a paid subscription model. Premium features – full-text search, unlimited notes, text-to-speech playlists on mobile devices, speed reading functionality, removal of ads on the web, and the ability to send articles to Amazon’s Kindle reader – will only be available going forward for a $2.99/month or $29.99/year subscription. Currently, subscriptions are available via the web only, but the company plans to add an In-App Purchase to the app in the future.

Instapaper also announced that it is returning to the European Union. When the EU’s GDPR legislation became effective at the end of May, Instapaper wasn’t ready and blocked access to EU citizens. As an apology for the extended downtime, Instapaper is providing its premium service to EU users for six months.

I recently switched back to Instapaper from Pocket because I was encouraged by its new independence from Pinterest, where the app got little attention over the past two years. With no new features added to Instapaper Premium as part of its relaunch as a paid subscription, convincing users to sign up may be difficult. It’s still early days in Instapaper’s newfound independence though, so I remain optimistic that there’s more to come from the Instapaper team, and I plan to stick with the app as my read-it-later service for the foreseeable future.

Instapaper is available as a free download on the App Store.

After Two Years with Pinterest, Instapaper Regains Its Independence

From Instapaper’s blog:

Today, we’re announcing that Pinterest has entered into an agreement to transfer ownership of Instapaper to Instant Paper, Inc., a new company owned and operated by the same people who’ve been working on Instapaper since it was sold to betaworks by Marco Arment in 2013. The ownership transfer will occur after a 21 day waiting period designed to give our users fair notice about the change of control with respect to their personal information.

We want to emphasize that not much is changing for the Instapaper product outside the new ownership. The product will continue to be built and maintained by the same people who’ve been working on Instapaper for the past five years. We plan to continue offering a robust service that focuses on readers and the reading experience for the foreseeable future.

Following Pinterest’s acquisition of Instapaper almost two years ago, there was a reasonable level of concern about what that change would mean for the popular read-it-later service. From an outside perspective, however, it seems like the transition has gone smoothly – which makes today’s announcement all the more surprising.

It will be interesting to see what changes this move brings in the short-term. In the immediate future, the company has already confirmed it’s working hard on making Instapaper available in Europe again. Looking further out, the service’s business model is a big question mark. Before Pinterest came along, Instapaper offered a premium subscription option that was later discontinued post-acquisition and its features made publicly available to all users. A new subscription plan may be in the works, likely with currently unannounced new features. Only time will tell what the future holds, but in any case, it’s always nice to see an app’s development team in full control of its product’s destiny.


Pocket 4.1 Adds Dark Theme, Pagination, Refinements

Following a massive 4.0 update that saw Read It Later turn into Pocket (our review), founder Nate Weiner told us the new platform they had built would allow them to “iterate and move faster than ever before”. Less than a month after Pocket’s launch, a major 4.1 update has been released today, bringing some new features and several refinements to the app that wants to make “save for later” mainstream.

In my original review, I noted how there was no way to manually add links into Pocket, either with a “+” button or through automatic clipboard detection for URLs, like Instapaper does. Pocket 4.1 introduces a subtle, good-looking dialog for added URLs that gracefully slides up from the bottom of the screen every time you launch Pocket with a URL available in the iOS clipboard. I still think Pocket should also have a manual button to enter new URLs, but the addition of clipboard integration improved my app-switching workflow nevertheless.

The most important changes in Pocket 4.1 are visual, as the app adds a bunch of new options to customize the look of the reading view and improve readability in different settings. New dark and sepia themes focus on high-contrast reading, and an application-wide dark option has also been enabled to make the UI easier on the eye for those who like to use Pocket at night. I like the new dark theme, as it really helps in navigating the inbox when I’m using Pocket while my girlfriend is sleeping and I don’t want to wake her with my iPhone’s display. Plus, the overall design of the theme is reminiscent of the old Read It Later in some way, which is a nice cameo. I am no fan of Sepia, but I guess it’s good to have options.

In the reading view itself, the Pocket team increased the maximum font size supported by the app – good for visually impaired users – and created a new pagination mode that lets you conveniently read long articles as single pages. Switching between “classic mode” and pagination isn’t a setting – rather, you can activate “page flipping”, as the team calls it, by swiping left or right on screen. The effect is pleasant, responsive, but I prefer to read my articles as #longreads I can scroll.

A minor change that I am deeply enjoying in version 4.1 is support for Devour and TED. For those not familiar with Devour, it is a website that collects “awesome videos” from YouTube every day, embedding them in a clean, neatly designed layout that is easy and fun to browse every day. Pocket 4.1 saves URLs as video thumbnails, which support the fancy video player introduced in version 4.0.

Pocket 4.0 was a great app, but the improvements made to the service lately and this new version have turned the product into an experience that fits my reading and watching habits even more. You can find Pocket 4.1 on the App Store.

Interview: Nate Weiner Talks Pocket Launch, Read It Later Evolution

I recently had the chance to talk with Nate Weiner, the creator of Read It Later, to discuss today’s launch of Pocket (here’s my review), the state of “read later” apps and reading on the web, and the direction Pocket is taking in enabling users to save their favorite content. Nate Weiner had the idea for Read It Later in 2007, when he found out he was constantly emailing links to himself for articles he wanted to read later. After five years, Read It Later is reborn today as Pocket.

MacStories: Looking back at my Purchased history on the App Store, I see the original Read It Later is the third app I installed on my iPhone. How has Read It Later changed in the past three years, leading to Pocket, launching today?

Nate Weiner: Was it really? That is awesome.

A lot has changed since then. When I launched the first iPhone app for Read It Later, I was just a solo developer working out of my bedroom in Minnesota. Today, I’m sitting in Read It Later’s office in downtown San Francisco alongside 7 other incredibly talented people.

What hasn’t changed is our focus. Read It Later was a simple tool that focused on doing just one thing: saving things for later. Pocket is about taking all of the core parts of what people did with Read It Later and making them better, easier, and quite honestly, just a lot more fun to use. Read more