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:
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.
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.