UPDATE February 24, 2023
After giving it an earnest go for several more weeks after I wrote this, I’m no longer using Reader as my daily feed reader and switched back to NetNewsWire. It was honestly felt like trading in some interesting but ill-fitting pants for a pair of well-worn jeans. The main issue for me is how Reader pre-fetches the linked content of an item in a feed, rather than displaying the contents. This breaks most link blogs, for example, but also just creates what I find to be a disjointed reading experience. I understand the idea, it might be something you’re looking for if RSS never quite stuck for you.
I’ve been an avid and enthusiastic user of the Readwise app for a while now. The idea behind Readwise is it’s an app built for a (relatively) small but very enthusiastic audience of active readers. It saves highlights from the web, e-books, and paper books (via a very clever and incredibly well implemented photo and OCR feature). The best part about Readwise, though, is that it has a daily review feature that resurfaces your highlights and helps you actually learn and remember what you’ve read.
For a few weeks, I’ve been alpha-testing1 their new Reader app (now in beta). Reader aims to be a power app for, well, power readers — it offers read-it-later functionality, like Instapaper or Pocket, as well as an RSS reader, PDF support, email forwarding for all those newsletters, and will even show YouTube transcripts inline with videos you save to watch later. Everything you highlight in Reader gets saved to Readwise and there’s (of course) an AI integration for summarizing and helping to clarify that actually adds little bits of delight.
Reader, like Readwise, is aiming for a niche audience of avid readers, researchers, note takers, and deep divers. As with many people over the past few months, I’ve been seriously reconsidering my media environment — I’ve shuttered my twitter account and find Mastodon interesting, but I’m ultimately not all that interested in trying to rebuild social media. Reader has definite potential to be a primary window through which I see the web.
What’s particularly compelling to me about Reader is it’s built entirely on the open internet — web pages, RSS feeds, email. These are all protocols not platforms that Reader sits on top of and adds tremendous value to, value that I happily pay for.
The Reader team has done just a tremendous job managing the alpha. The regular email updates from their community manager are full of insightful tips, I’ve had bug reports responded to directly from the founders, and the entire team is highly responsive to feedback. More than anything, you get the sense this is a team that’s passionate about their product, understands their audience intimately well, and is just so excited to be building Reader. ↩︎