One of the great things about the Internet is the constant stream of information available all the time. If you’re reading this review, there’s a pretty good chance you also enjoy browsing other websites to learn about what’s going on in the world. In doing so, I’m sure you’ve found yourself in a situation in which you wanted to read something but didn’t have time. Perhaps you left a tab open on your browser to read it later, or thought that you’d remember to check it next time you were online (but didn’t).
In situations such as this, it would be nice to save the article so that you could read it at your leisure, possibly on a multitude of devices.Now, I know that my scenario may conjure up images of Instapaper or even Safari’s Reading List feature, however, Instapaper will run your $4.99 and Safari’s Reading List is limited by the fact that you have to use Safari. If you want a service as great (if not greater in some aspects) as Instapaper at none of the cost, then Readability is just the service for you. Find out more after the jump.
When you fire up Readability after a some-what lengthy download, you’ll be prompted to sign-up or sign-in (if you’re already a member of the service). Perhaps it may be due to it’s recent arrival on iOS, but either process may take multiple attempts before being directed to the introductory page. As stated before, Readability is a free service and signing up will not cost you a thing (but Readability does appreciate donations).
Adding Items to Your Reading List
If you’re new to Readability, your reading list queue will obviously be empty. Adding items to your queue can be performed in numerous methods. You can copy a URL and add it manually by tapping the Options button in the top right corner and tapping the plus icon. If you want to save a web page from your computer, you can use a bookmarklet or add-on (Chrome, Firefox and Safari only). In addition, Readability is built-in to many popular apps, such as Reeder, Pulse, Longform, Early Edition 2 and various Twitter apps (Tweetbot, Echofon, Twitterrific, Ubsersocial and Tweetlogix).
The reading list sports a very clean and minimal design that I love. Each saved item is displayed in its own block, and each block includes the original website’s URL, the article’s header and first few opening lines. A navigation bar at the top of the page displays the section of the app you’re currently using (i.e. Reading List, Favorites and Archives), the number of articles within the section (except for Archives) and an Options button.
If you swipe an article block to the right, a side menu will display giving you the option to save the article to your favorites, archive the article or delete the article. It’s worth noting that Readability doesn’t impose a storage limit, so if you think you may want to view an article in the future but want to remove it from your Reading List, you should store it in your Archive.
If you’re like me and forget to archive/delete articles once you’re done reading, you can select multiple articles at once by tapping the Options button and tapping Edit. Once you’ve highlighted your desired articles, tap the Move or Delete button.
The Reading View displays web pages in a single column view and removes any unnecessary clutter. In addition, articles that include images (such as this one) are also displayed; however, you are not able to zoom in or out to look at the image more closely. If you tap on a link within an article, you are directed to a built-in browser, which gives you the option of sending it to the Reading View (designated by the Read Now option) or saving it to read later.
Speaking of a built-in browser, you can view an article on the original website by tapping the Web View arrow icon, located next to the site’s URL above the header. If you’re settling down for a long session of reading, you don’t need to return to the Reading List to jump to the next article. Instead, when you’re at the end of an article, simply drag up and the next article on your list will be queued up.
If you want to favorite, archive or delete an article once you’re finished, you can do so by tapping on your screen and tapping the corresponding icon in the menu bar at the bottom. You can also customize your view and share an article via Twitter, Facebook or e-mail. The Share menu also allows you to copy the article’s link or open up the article in the Safari browser.
Before making the switch to Readability, I was an avid user of Read It Later. While both services offer much of the same functionality, Read It Later lacks the overall style and versatility of Readability. Specifically, Readability offers five font options (Read It Later offers two), including three serif and two sans serif fonts. You may also change the size of the font and toggle between and light and dark view (Read It Later also provides light and dark views, but the use of an all black background instead of the dark gray found in Readability isn’t as friendly to the eye).
Depending on your reading habits, Readability may not be a service you need. I like to catch up on my news via Reeder while on break at work and I typically don’t have time to read more than a few articles while doing so. I find Readability useful because it gives me a method to save articles I currently don’t have time for to read at my leisure. Plus, as a Tweetbot user, I can easily save articles from Twitter to read on a clean and simple view.
With so many uses, Readability is worth taking a look at, especially since it’s at no cost to you.