After declaring Pocket bankruptcy, I made my own minimal read-it-later app
over 4 years ago from Greg de J, iOS Developer & Designer
I went through this phase many times:
- Try a read-it-later app (Pocket/Instapaper/Safari/etc.)
- Roughly manage to catch up and clear the list.
- The growing list of articles starts to become overwhelming.
- 1000 saved articles later, the list grows so big I’m scared to even open the app.
- Start afresh with another app and a clean empty list. Repeat.
And there was also this feature in Safari Reading List that I found very efficient.
At the bottom of each page, Safari injects a direct link to the next page in the list. No need to go back up to the list, spend time picking something to read from an endless list of titles and minuscule thumbnails. Just give me the next page so that I quickly scan it, maybe remember why I save it, and if not, let me dismiss it and move on to the next page immediately.
So I decided to build my own opinionated take on what should be a minimal read-it-later app that values my reading time, with the following principles.
- There’s no list. Pages are arranged into a queue.
- Opening the app shows directly the first page in the queue, and nothing else.
- I should decide to read or archive page #1 before moving to page #2. Articles are less likely to be left forgotten in the queue because I review them all, one by one.
- Edge-swiping left marks the current page as archived, and displays the next one, with no waiting time because it was preloaded in the background.
- The current page can be snoozed (which puts it at the back of the queue) if I would rather read something else, but only up to 3 times. If I keep postponing reading it, it’s probably not worth my time.
- The app nudges me if the page I’m reading was saved more than 30 days ago, encouraging me to let it go since apparently, my life did not depend on it.
- Every page shows an estimated read time.
- The whole list is measured in cumulative reading time, a metric more meaningful than the number of pages. This helps me realize I’m saving more than I can humanly read, and act on it by archiving pages I find not so interesting.
- I can go nuclear and empty the queue to start afresh anytime.
I named this app “Reading Queue”, it’s currently available on iPhone, and desktop browser extensions will be ready early next year.
In the meantime, even though I’ve been happily using that app for 2 years, it’s a bit radical and experimental, and I’d love to hear people feedback about it. If you're curious, please get it on the App Store
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