10 Apps & Sites That Bring Back the Joy of Reading

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4. Readability

Richard Ziade and Chris Dary launched Readability in 2010 as a service that let users pay a small amount to publishers to save text-only, browser-based versions of articles by clicking on a bookmarklet button—in other words, roughly the same function now available for free in Evernote Clearly and other parsers. Apple adopted Readability’s technology in June 2010, when it included a de-cluttering feature called Reader in version 5 of its desktop Web browser, Safari. Readability eventually dropped its payment scheme, although you can still sign up to pay a voluntary monthly contribution (the startup sends 70 percent of reader’s contributions to authors and publishers).

For more than a year, Readability has been working on its own iOS app for iPhones and iPads—in fact, they hired Marco Arment to help build the first version. But Apple rejected that app because it didn’t use Apple’s own in-app payment mechanism to process the (now removed) payments. The company went back to the drawing board, working with a different developer, and in November, it said that an iOS app was “on its way” to the iTunes App Store. Unfortunately, there’s still no sign of it.

But that hasn’t been a deal breaker, because Readability works well with the browsers on smartphones and tablets, and because the company has been so generous about opening its platform to other app developers. Reeder, TweetMag, Pulse, and Longform are three of the roughly 500 apps that allow you to access your Readability reading list.

Okay, that’s the long, complicated background—so why would you use Readability? Well, maybe because of its ubiquity. Many Web publishers have incorporated the Readability button, with its little red couch, into their websites, which makes it easy to send articles to your Readability queue. Or maybe because you want to support writers and publishers, who get 70 percent of your contributions. Or maybe because of the attractive design of the Web version of Readability, which is even more minimalist than the other minimalist reading experiences, if that’s possible.

Next app: Read It Later.

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Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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