Update: A number of apps announced Readability integration not long after I originally wrote this, so I’ve been updating the list in stride. Have I missed any? Let me know.
Readability is my read-later service of choice these days, partly because of its polished design and clever URL shortener, but primarily because the service lets me directly contribute to the sites I read most. Its official iOS apps have been caught up in App Store review hell for some odd reason, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use the service on your iPad and iPhone now.
A handful of apps already support sending links to Readability or pulling your article list down for offline reading. I own and have used all of these, and they do their job well:
- Reeder for iPhone and iPad adds a dedicated Readability section if you enable it in Settings app. True to Reeder form, you can swipe to the left and right on a Readability article’s headline to archive and change its read state
- The Early Edition 2 for iPad is a unique, stylish Google Reader client that recently added full integration with Readability, including your favorites and archived stories
- Longform for iPad integrates with Longform.org and collects a curated list of great articles to read from major news sources and magazines. It also downloads your Readability reading list
- Pulse for iPhone and iPad is a newsreader which doesn’t require Google Reader, but also syncs with your Readability reading list
- Writing Kit is a fantastic writing app with a bunch of great, clever features that, like Fraser Speirs, allow me to need my Mac less as a writer. It has a built-in browser for doing research and pulling in quotes with attribution, and you can read and submit links to Readability as well
- Tweetbot has been my favorite iPhone Twitter client for probably a year or more. I can open a webpage and submit it to Readability from the action menu, but you can also just tap-hold on a link to get the option
- Twitterrific for iPhone and iPad is another good client that added Readability as a read-later option for links you find in tweets
This list has grown since I originally wrote this post, but I’ve been updating it as more apps announce Readability features. The service seems to be gaining steam with a steady flow of useful, well-designed features that offer perks for both developers and users.
Gina Trapani ported her Todo.txt app from Android to iOS and shares some thoughts and first-day sales:
The app has been live in the iTunes Store for just over 24 hours, and it’s gotten 11 five-star ratings and one one-star rating, and eight reviews, all positive with one exception. But what about sales compared to the Android app’s launch day?
40% More iOS Apps Sold on the First Day of Sales Than Android
Consumer 2 is now in the App Store. I think Bjango is great, and so is this app: Consume lets you track usage for tons of services like your mobile phone, broadband, rewards cards, packages, and more.
This huge upgrade makes Consume universal for iPad and iPhone, adds iCloud for syncing your accounts between devices, history graphs, and more.
Consumer 2 is a free upgrade if you already own it. If you want to hop on board, it’s just $3.
In case you’ve never heard of an iPhone or used the internet until today, Flipboard for iPhone is out and it’s fantastic. The wait was well worth it, as the team nailed the feature set and a ton of fantastic bits of polish throughout.
Even the launch screen is great, with subtle animation creating interest and drawing your eye to how to get started. My screenshots don’t do it much justice: the woman is actually moving the binoculars, and the bottom of the page occasionally flips up like a flag in a gentle breeze to reveal startup and login options. Once you answer its call, you are instantly taught how flipping through pages works in Flipboard for iPhone—vertically, instead of horizontally like on the iPad.
I find it both astounding and depressing that an app of such high quality is being given away for free by a new startup (which is making money through content deals), when apps from traditional publishers are so mind-numbingly terrible.
For all of Apple’s pontificating about the App Store being a place for great apps and premium experiences, there is a tremendous lack of both in the App Store’s Newsstand.
Some apps, like New York Times, don’t allow basic copy and paste or even just highlighting a single word to define it. Many, such as Computer Arts and The Daily, use poor, custom-built code to needlessly recreate popular and freely accessible UI tools like Cover Flow. Many are glorified, phoned-in PDF replicas of the print version.
There are three fingers to point for this predicament, one each at publishers, Adobe, and Apple. There’s no way actual human beings at most of these publishers have spent any real time with their first round of iPad and Newsstand apps. If I’m wrong, then we may have a George Lucas Paradox: the people in charge of these experiences can’t tell they’re crap, yet no one in a position of influence is willing to stand up and speak the truth.
Then there’s Adobe, the insidious dealer of broken platforms and promises. The software maker seems to have hooked most publishers with its vapid “write once, run anywhere” mantra, which is simultaneously depressing and hilarious considering Adobe has become a design company that can’t tell bad design when it’s respnsible for flooding an entire corner of the App Store ecosystem with it.
Apple doesn’t get a free pass here, either. The self-professed Defender Against Terrible Experiences is turning a blind eye and a fattening wallet away from one of the most important yet neglected industries for iOS devices, one that is fumbling through what could have been a wonderful reinvention for the digital age.
Justin wrote a lot of what I’ve been meaning to say about the generally terrible state of iPad magazines. Over 2,000 words just about the download and initial out-of-box experience (the painful process of actually reading these things is the subject of a forthcoming post), starting with:
Remember, kids. The first rule of App Club is that no one gives a fuck about your brand. A splash screen with a giant logo is something that makes editors and marketing directors feel good, but to a user it just feels like a meaningless delay. You know that feeling of frustration you get each time there’s a 15-second preroll before a video on the web? That’s what a splash screen with logos and advertisements is.
He cites GQ, Sports Illustrated, and Esquire, but he could be talking about most of the App Store’s magazines. Part of the problem is that most (but not all) magazines are built with Adobe’s crappy iPad platform, which entices publishers with the same “write once, run anywhere” philosophy that makes Adobe AIR apps such an eye-gouging pleasure to use.
Justin doesn’t just bang his drum about what’s wrong, though. He ends his post with a good list of ways to fix many of these problems.
SuperAlbum for iPhone from Art & Mobile is turning out to be all kinds of awesome. It’s a photo album for the web, featuring support for a bunch of popular services that isn’t just skin deep. SuperAlbum can aggregate your photos from Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Picasa, 500px, and mixi, and you can add multiple accounts for each service.
The great part is that SuperAlbum understands when a service has multiple albums or, in the case of Tumblr, multiple blogs. Tap into Facebook or Flickr and you can see all your sets, albums, and tags. Tap into Tumblr and you get a list of all the blogs in your account. SuperAlbum can play all photos from an album or blog as a slideshow, export photos to other apps, tweet photos using iOS 5’s new Twitter support, print photos, and more. Art & Mobile also has a subtle UI style that fits with iOS but adds some interesting polish. I wouldn’t put it up there with Tapbots, but it’s noticeable and a little refreshing.
I’ve been looking for a photo album for the web for a while, and SuperAlbum fits the bill perfectly so far. For 99¢, you can’t go wrong.
Curious about Day One as a journaling app for all those things you don’t want to post to Facebook or Twitter? I’ve been using it since August, so Macworld asked for a review.
Cloak, the drop-dead-simple VPN (virtual private network) service for securing your internet connection at public hot spots, is now out for iPhone and iPad.
This is one of my favorite new services in years. Since I work at home, I often change things up by getting out to coffee shops, and I travel a few times a year. But security on public hot spots is typically a joke, and VPN services have maintained their cruft and complexity from The Old Days.
Cloak fixes all that. Install it on your Mac, iPhone, and iPad, add your username and password, and flip a switch to encrypt your connection from prying eyes. On Mac, you can even tell Cloak to fire up automatically when you connect to any unknown networks. Wonderfully simple, comfortably secure.
Cloak offers a free plan so you can try it out with unlimited data that’s capped at two hours of usage per month. Paid plans start at $8 for 20GB of data per month and unlimited time. I’ve been beta testing Cloak for months and I can’t recommend it enough. If you care about keeping your online activity private while in public, you need Cloak.