Saturday, March 12, 2011

As A Reading Platform, Smartphones Finally Achieve

I've complained before about the disappointing shortcomings of Android phones as a reading platform. One of the very biggest limitations was speed-of-access--article weren't cached. I am happy to say that I now consider those limitations fixed. The new Read It Later app is just terrific, and sells for the extremely reasonable price of $1. Another competitive option is the Everpaper client for Instapaper.

Both these apps meet the minimum for solid competence:
  1. Offline access--very fast, and can use when you don't have data (e.g., airplane).
  2. Ease of adding content.
  3. Auto-formatting for mobile-friendly reading layout (very, very important)
  4. Good reading client, including the very important configurable font-size.
  5. Web browser bookmarklets--for flagging articles on your computer, and having them auto-synch to the reading app.
  6. Good, sensible mobile configurability--lock orientation, specify when to synch.
The extra features that set Read It Later apart:
  1. Auto-saves your place in the article--this is very critical.
The minor polishing that it still needs:
  1. Full-screen option, to make full use of limited real-estate.
  2. A scrollbar on touch, so that you don't have to swipe page after page to fast-forward or scroll back.
  3. Tied in to the above, browser-style forward and back buttons.
  4. Page-Up, Page-Down tied to the volume rocker switch, of course! (Or a tap-to-turn, like the Kindle app)


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