10 Apps & Sites That Bring Back the Joy of Reading

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6. Reader and Reading List in Safari

As I mentioned above, Apple used the free parser developed by Readability to add a text-only reading function to Safari a couple of years ago. That wasn’t an earthshaking event, since Safari has such a tiny share of the desktop browser market—around 6 percent, by most estimates. But it became a bigger deal when Apple introduced iOS5, the newest version of its mobile operating system, and ported the same features to the mobile version of Safari, which is the default browser on the iPhone and the iPad.

In effect, anyone with an iOS device has free, built-in access to a system that replicates many of the functions available from Readability, Instapaper, and Read It Later. But there are a few interesting differences. First off, the Reader function in Safari only becomes available once a Web page has fully loaded in the browser window. At that point, clicking the Reader button (at the far right end of the address bar) brings up a pop-up window with the clean version of the text—“sans ads or clutter,” in Apple’s words. It’s not actually a fully decluttered experience, since the browser chrome and a grayed-out version of the original page are still visible behind the parsed window, but it’s close. (I suspect that Apple stopped short of the full Instapaper treatment in order to sidestep accusations that it was costing publishers page views.)

If you just want to save an article for later reading, you can do that using the bookmarks button, which includes a new “Reading List” area. When you retrieve an article from Reading List, Safari grabs the classic Web view, and you can toggle back into Reader view if you like. So, overall, Apple’s system involves a little more back-and-forthing than the other reading systems. There’s no way to default to the minimalist view—but that’s understandable, since building that function into a browser would provoke a full-on revolt from publishers.

Next app: Reeder.

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Wade Roush is the producer and host of the podcast Soonish and a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @soonishpodcast

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  • Joy, clarity and excitement I thank you to make me feel
    Reading deep within your verses disguised in sentences
    Trembling I can still feel the tremors and the aftershocks
    So intense yet recomforting to assure metaphoric guidance
    Testimony the Light is bright today and reflects the entrance
    Of an enchanted future opening the pathway to the existence
    Of man life on Earth the universal wonder of Love and romance
    Fortunate I will be to capture its metaphysical awe of significance
    Free of worry I am pushing away the darkest faces of Life sentences
    Hunger, thirst, loneliness only were the blur of the abusive obstinence
    But not another word about this as it time to rise again always in advance
    Aware we are all connected to a magnetic power of each other audiences
    Clearing off the air of a sweet home protected with electronic clairevoyance..