If you love reading online articles, but don’t usually have time to read them in full when you’re using your browser, then you’re like a heavy user of a reading later service. There’s three popular web apps to help you save articles to read anytime: Pocket, Readability, and Instapaper. While all these services have native apps for your iPhone and more, only Pocket has a native Mac app (one that used to be the best Instapaper app for the Mac).
So what’s an Instapaper or Readability user to do, if they want to read their articles on the Mac? There’s two new apps that are great options: ReadKit and Words App. We’d looked at Words before, but found its interface rather lacking for a full reading app. Their dev team went back to the drawing board, though, and their newly released Words 2 is easily one of the nicest ways to read longform articles on your Mac. If you didn’t try it out the first time around, you should definitely take a look at Words 2.
It Starts With the Services
No reading app would be complete without reading services to sync with, and Words App has left no service out. You can add your Instapaper, Readability, or Pocket account to Words App, and then read articles from all of the services together. Pocket has its own app, so odds are Instapaper and Readability users will be most interested in this app, but it’s still a nice option for Pocket since it has more options and features than the official app.
There’s not much more to the settings, other than an option to manage and add folders. This is rather nice to have, since the folders do sync with Instapaper, and that gives you a simple way to keep your reading queue manageable from the app.
With that, you’re ready to start reading in Words 2’s familiar yet unique 3-column interface. Your article will start syncing almost instantly, and you’ll see all of your articles from all connected services just as if they were from the same account. Your inbox will show the number of unread articles as well as the total number of articles in your account, and unread articles will have a lighter background in your reading list.
When you click on an article, Words 2 will mark it as read, and Instapaper will pick up on this setting, opening the article scrolled to the very end after you’ve read any of it in Words. That makes me hopeful it’ll be able to sync reading position in the future, but for now it’s a bit annoying.
Reading your articles in Words 2 is a very nice experience. The app includes 5 reading themes, with various font and spacing choices (oddly, including one with Comic Sans; don’t worry, the rest of the choices are nice. There’s a light and dark mode, as well as an optional multi-column reading mode. That’s very nice if you want the newspaper feel, though for the most part, I stuck with the traditional single column article view while testing Words 2. There’s also one other interesting feature: Words 2 doesn’t include font size settings, but instead uses responsive type to resize the font as you resize your window, much as in iA Writer. The effect is nice, though I did wish I could bump up the font size a bit more.
There is one thing missing from Words 2 that was in the original Words App: a auto-generated list of keywords found in your articles, which was a unique way to look through your reading list. Though, with the new search tool, along with the radically new and improved UI, that’ll likely not be missed.
A Few Things to Note
You might have noticed that Words 2 includes very few buttons in its interface, beyond those for changing the reading mode and style. That’s because almost everything relating to your articles is handled with keyboard shortcuts. Tap A to archive an article, U to mark it as unread, F to mark it as one of your favorite articles, and so on. You can even tap your delete key to delete an article. It’s simple, just rather unexpected at first.
If keyboard shortcuts aren’t your thing, though, don’t despair. Words 2 also lets you drag-and-drop articles into folders or the archive, which gives you an easy way to move articles around. It also gives you a simple way to clear out your inbox of articles you’ve already read by dragging them directly to the archive when you’ve finished them.
It’s almost impossible to compare Words 1 to Words 2; they’re that much different. Words 1 was the minimum you could ask from a reading app, one that was too feature-less for most of our tastes. It’d have worked if you were desperate to read Instapaper articles offline, but was far from a replacement for the Read Later app we’d just lost.
Words 2, on the other hand, is a testament to the fact that apps can do similar functions and still be unique. Its layout isn’t so much unlike every other reading app (or email app, or social networking app), but every part of the app has been custom designed to make it unique. That has its faults, including somewhat odd behavior in places that only makes sense if you’re used to it, but overall, it gives Words a uniqueness most other reading apps don’t have. Combine that with robust support for the three main reading services, and it’s a great app for reading articles on your Mac.
Words App still isn’t perfect, but it really is a nice, unique app. It’s incredible how much they’ve changed the app so far, and we can’t wait to see how the developers continue to improve Words App. For now, it offers one of the nicest reading later experiences on the Mac, one you should be sure to try out if you haven’t found the perfect reading app for your Mac yet.
… and a Giveaway!
We’ve just closed our giveaway, and congrats to our winners: The_Toaster, Christopher, Dan, JB, Lapo, Decio, KP, Marcel, Ruslan, and Simon!
But that’s not all. We’ve also got 10 copies of Words App to giveaway again! Just leave a comment below letting us know what reading service you’re using, and we’ll enter you in the giveaway. You can also share the giveaway on Twitter, Facebook, or App.net, and leave a link to your post in a separate comment for an extra entry in the giveaway. We’ll close the giveaway on Friday, March 15th, so hurry and get your entries in!
Also, if you won a copy of Words in our last giveaway, feel free to comment as well, and please let us know what you think of the new version of Words!
As usual, Envato staff or people who have written more than two articles or tutorials for AppStorm are ineligible to enter.