Services like Instapaper and Read It Later are a really great way to store a selection of articles that you’d really like to read but don’t necessarily have time for when you discover them. However, as just about everyone who uses these services knows, it’s far too easy to throw articles in your queue while promising yourself that you’ll read them only to completely forget they exist.
The phrase “out of sight, out of mind” is quite appropriate with these particular web services. ReadNow seeks to change that by giving you a native way to manage and read your saved articles. Who knows? If they’re always in your menu bar, you just might read some of those articles!
When you first open ReadNow, you’ll see a simple login screen that allows you to sign into either Instapaper or Read It Later, depending on which you currently favor.
There’s a major caveat here though. If, like me, you’re an Instapaper user, you may be out of luck. It turns out, only those users with a paid Instapaper subscription can use apps that access the public API. If you’re a free user, you’re not just going to miss out on this app, but all third-party Instapaper apps!
This is a major bummer, but luckily there’s Read It Later, a very similar alternative that is completely free and places no restrictions on API access.
The Reading List
Once you’re all logged in and squared away, the ReadNow icon will show up in your menu bar. Simply click on it to open your reading list. To add an article to ReadNow, simply drag the link to the menu bar icon. You can also define global shortcuts for sending articles to ReadNow.
The functionality here is deceptively simple. When I first played with the app, I almost didn’t think that there was enough here to even write a review, but upon closer inspection you find just about all the functionality that you need.
For starters, you can view both your Unread and Archived lists and search the list for specific articles. If you right-click on an article, you can see that you have full feed-management functionality including the ability to archive, edit or delete a listing or share it via email or Twitter.
If you’re using ReadNow with an Instaper account, it will recognize your various folders (Read It Later doesn’t support folders, use tags instead). For now, you can only view and rearrange items between folders, but in a future update you’ll be able to create folders right in the app.
Reading an Article
There are three primary ways to read an article using ReadNow. The first is the simplest: double-click on an article or hit “Return” to view it in your default browser. This allows you to view the article in its original context without any filters.
The second option is to the article it on Instapaper or Read It Later. Both of these apps offer a greatly simplified web reading experience that strip out text formatting, images, ads, etc. To launch this view (opens your browser), hit “V” on the keyboard with the article selected.
Reading In ReadNow
The third option for reading articles is to view them directly in ReadNow. This feature is apparently experimental so it’s fairly hidden and took me a while to figure out. It turns out, you must go into the ReadNow preferences and activate offline reading. After this, you have to re-download all of your articles.
Once you’ve taken those steps, you can press “space” or “h” on an article to launch the article viewer. Just like the Read It Later and Instapaper web views, this shows a stripped down version of the article.
From here, you can change the font of the article to fit your particular preference. Any font on your machine is up for grabs. Unfortunately, the options are fairly limited. For instance, I’d love to adjust the line-spacing so the text isn’t quite so squished together but it doesn’t appear that this is possible.
Conclusion: Worth A Download?
If you’re a heavy user of either Instapaper or Read It Later, ReadMore is an awesome utility to stay on top of your reading list. At only $3.99, it’s definitely priced quite well and is well worth parting with a few bucks to get.
There are some limitations though and I’d like to see the app become more powerful than it currently is. For instance, more control over the built-in reader is a must. Writeroom-like interface customization would be perfect, this includes complete control over the text, margins and color scheme. I think the built-in reader is one of the primary draws for the app but the experience is currently lacking.
Otherwise, ReadNow is off to an excellent start. There are definitely not enough native clients that give you management over these types of services. In fact, I couldn’t really find a competitor to compare it to! I look forward to keeping an eye the development of this app and others like it in the future.