Reading Stories December 15, 2014

Amazon pushed out an updated version of its Kindle for iOS app today bringing a list of new features to the reading app.

Kindle for iOS now includes integration with Goodreads, the social cataloging service it bought last year, allowing readers users to share book progress and completion status, quotes, and more Kindle to Goodreads. iPad Kindle app users now have access to Amazon’s Book Browser to view book descriptions and customer ratings; Kindle Unlimited customers (30-day free trial) can download books directly from the Book Browser. The new version also adds a feature called Audible Progressive Play, which allows audiobook listeners using the Amazon-owned Audible service to play content as it downloads.

The update also adds new ways for users to access information and details about Kindle books. Check the extensive change log of the latest version below for more information: expand full story

Reading Stories October 4, 2014

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Previously, I discussed how to have your iOS device read text for you in iOS 7, and in iOS 8 it works pretty much the same way – but with some little differences. It is now easier to set up and make text speakable on an iOS device. Before we discuss how to do it, let’s first set up our iOS device so we can do it:

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Reading Stories September 29, 2014

Kindle & Facebook Messenger updated for iPhone 6 support

The list of updated apps for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus is still somewhat small since developers only learned of the new iPhone display resolutions earlier this month. The Kindle iPhone app from Amazon is joining that short list today, though, with a new version optimized for the iPhone 6.

That means that like iBooks, text you read in Kindle’s iPhone app won’t be fuzzy or scaled up. If you prefer the zoomed up version, however, iPhone 6 users do have that option to make every app larger using the Display Zoom feature found in the accessibilities section of the Settings app on iOS.

Kindle’s previous added a handy widget in Notification Center’s Today view for quickly accessing books you’re reading. Kindle for iOS is available for free on the App Store.

Facebook Messenger has also been updated for the new iPhone models. Notably, the chat app has beat the primary app for the social network in updating for the new iPhones.

Reading Stories June 10, 2014

Amazon integrates Audible audiobooks directly into Kindle mobile apps

Amazon announced today that it’s integrating the Audible audiobook service it purchased back in 2008 directly into the Kindle apps for both iOS and Android. After installing a free update landing today for the apps, users will be able to listen to Audible audio books without ever having to leave the app.

“We continue to hear from a growing number of Whispersync for Voice converts who tell us the innovation has profoundly changed the way they read—in fact, switching back and forth between reading and listening has become their preferred way of experiencing stories,” said Audible founder and CEO Donald Katz. “And the feature has gotten easier and easier to use, as this exciting integration into Kindle apps attests.”

The service is an extension of the Whispersync for Voice feature that Amazon recently launched. That feature allowed users to switch “seamlessly” between reading and listening but required users to have both the Kindle and Audible apps. With the updated Kindle apps, users will be able to get narrations for 45,000 Kindle books and growing as well as purchase Audible upgrades for previously purchased Amazon Kindle books ranging from $1 to $4. The audio and text versions of the book will stay in-sync, pages turn automatically, and narration includes a x2 speed mode and sleep timer option. The best part is that you won’t be pulled out of Kindle and into the Audible app now when switching between text and audio. 

The update includes other new features too, including: improvements to the X-Ray reference tool for textbooks and the ability to download an entire collection with a single tap. A full list of new features is below.

The updated Kindle app for iPhone and iPad is available on the App Store now.

What’s New in Version 4.3

Listen to Audible audiobooks! Customers owning both the Kindle and Audible versions of a title can now listen to the audiobook right in the Kindle app.

Now you can use the Kindle app to switch back and forth between reading a Kindle book comfortably at home and listening to the story while driving to work.

Additional Features Include: •Access to more than 45,000 Kindle/Audible title pairs, including best sellers • Find audiobooks compatible with items in your Kindle library – audiobooks are delivered by Audible, an Amazon company • Whispersync for Voice automatically synchronizes reading progress between the Audible and Kindle versions of a book • Read and listen to a Kindle book at the same time; pages turn automatically • Narration speeds up to 2x and a sleep timer • Download an entire collection – gives customers the ability to download an entire collection with the tap of a button, making it easier for readers to download in bulk and load their favorite books on a new iOS device • Students can now find terms that are in X-Ray for Textbooks by using search – occurrences in X-Ray are shown right above occurrences in the book • Finding where an X-Ray term occurs on a textbook page is now easier – tap a page thumbnail in the X-Ray feature and you will see the term highlighted in the page of the book • Performance and stability improvements

Reading Stories May 27, 2014

Reeder for iOS updated with background app refresh, improved navigation & multiple bug fixes

The popular newsreader app Reeder has been updated to version 2.2 with a fairly lengthy list of new features and bug fixes.

Notably, navigation has been improved, with the ability to pan left and right to toolbars and empty spaces in list views, as well as adding a drag handle to the toolbar to make it more obvious that you can slide left/right to go forward and back. A loading progress indicator has also been added to the in-app browser.

Smart streams now support grouping by either feed or date, and the app can also now handle feed links from other apps.

Bug fixes include handling of multiple Feedly accounts, the disappearing status bar with the white theme on the iPad and missing scrollbars in the browser and when using dark themes.

Reeder costs $4.99 from the App Store. The latest beta of the Mac version is still available for free from the Reeder site.

The full change list for Reeder 2.2 can be found below:

Reading Stories January 15, 2014

Review: Outread helps you get through your reading list even faster using a unique text highlighting system

Outread is a new speed reader app for the iPhone that helps you read faster by highlighting short sections of text. Focusing on the highlighted section helps you efficiently and quickly move through the text. This differs from most speed reader apps in that they use a technique called Rapid Serial Visual Presentation, which presents one word at a time.

Both of these speed reading techniques force the reader to stop reading out loud inside their head (subvocalization), which is what slows us down when we are reading. Generally a reader’s average reading speed is two hundred words per minute, but Outread supports reading speeds up to one thousand words per minute and a marker size of one hundred characters.

Under the app’s settings, you can adjust the Reading Speed (how many words go by per minute), Marker Size (how many characters are highlighted), and the size of the text. You can also enable a dark theme and see a preview of the different fonts that are available. The color of the highlighter is not customizable. Because of this, I found that it took me a while to find the highlighter when using the app’s dark theme.

Outread also has a feature that allows you to import text or URL’s from your clipboard. While it doesn’t automatically detect the clipboard’s contents when you launch the app, the function is only a tap away.

You are also able to install a “Read In Outread” bookmark which will save articles from Safari to the app’s reading list. When you save the articles to Outread, it downloads them for offline viewing so you can read them without an internet connection, which is perfect for use while traveling. If you use Pocket, Readability, or have an Instapaper subscription you are able to sign into these accounts in Outread and see your offline lists.

Outread does not support importing Microsoft Word documents, Pages files, or PDF files, which is inconvenient when it comes to reading papers and articles for school. Hopefully this functionality will be added in a future update. For now, copying the text from those documents and importing it via the clipboard is a helpful workaround.

I have been using Outread for reading the news and articles for school. Compared to other speed reader apps that use rapid serial visualization presentation, I find that it takes a bit of getting used to the animation when it scrolls down the page. If you want to try an app that can help you get through your reading list much faster, I recommend giving it a try. Outread is available in the App Store for $2.99.

Reading Stories January 6, 2014

Kindle for iOS updated with new flashcard feature, dictionary redesign, more

Starting off the new year with new features and improvements, Amazon updated its Kindle app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch today to version 4.1.

The update brings new features to users like the ability to create flash cards from text books for studying. This feature essentially creates bookmarks outside of the content for reviewing information on specific characters, places, or topics, and uses data from Wikipedia as part of Kindle’s X-Ray feature.

The update also includes a number of requested features and performance enhancements (full change log below).

Reading Stories December 19, 2013

Review: Prismatic news reader revamped with increased focus on personal interests

Prismatic is a news-reading app that creates a tailored feed based on each user’s personal interests. The app can analyze and crawl the user’s social data from sites like Twitter and Facebook, then analyze it for common threads that could point to specific interests. Once Prismatic is done analyzing the aggregated data, it recommends following topics it believes the user will find interesting.

Once the user has selected a few topics, Prismatic regularly tracks down content from all over the web that fit into these topics and presents them for easy reading. There are over 10,000 interests to follow, and Prismatic looks at over 5 million new stories each day.

The articles are presented on a news feed that combines all of a user’s interests on one page. Every article displays one or two lines of text, a photo (if the article includes one), and shows how many people have liked it, disliked it, or shared it. By liking or disliking a story in the news feed, users can help Prismatic’s algorithm continue to learn more about what types of content they want to see.

The Explore section lets users suggested interests and search for specific users or publications. If you find articles that you want to share, Prismatic allows you to publish links to them through Twitter, Facebook, or email.

If you’re searching for a smarter way to discover and read news on your favorite subjects, you should consider giving Prismatic a try. You can get it for free from the App Store

 

Reading Stories September 26, 2013

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Velocity is a new speed reader app for your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad that helps you read faster by presenting one word at a time using a technique called Rapid Serial Visual Presentation. Studies have shown that using Rapid Serial Visual Presentation helps increase reader’s reading speed because it forces the reader to stop reading out loud inside their head (subvocalization), and suppresses the tendency for eyes to backtrack the line while reading and searching for the end of the sentence. Generally a reader’s average reading speed is two hundred words per minute, but Velocity supports reading speeds up to one thousand words per minute.

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Reading Stories September 21, 2013

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Previously, I discussed how to have your iOS device read text for you in iOS 6, and in iOS 7 it works pretty much the same way – but with some little differences.

As in iOS 6, there are two different ways to make text speakable on an iOS device. But before we do that and discuss how to do it, let’s first set up our iOS device so we can do it:

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Reading Stories August 17, 2013

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iOS devices are built with all users in mind: they come with several accessibility features for low-vision or legally blind users, settings for hard-of-hearing or deaf users, settings for individuals who have physical and motor difficulties, and settings for individuals with learning difficulties.

In this accessibility segment, I will be discussing how to make text speakable on an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch:

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Reading Stories June 7, 2011

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Apple updated iBooks to 1.3 today for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.  Most notable is the read-aloud feature included in select children’s books from the iBookstore.

The read-aloud feature uses a real narrator to read the book to you, and in some books, it will even highlight the words as you read along.

Initially, it isn’t certain whether or not the narrator will be a (Nuance?) Text to speech voice or if the audio is included by the developers.

The new functionality isn’t just for children’s books. Enhanced books can now automatically play audio or video included with the book.

Apple is now going beyond the other eBookstores offering innovation and functionality that differentiates books into the realm of apps.  Apple now offers Books directly in iTunes as part of the 10.3 update yesterday as well.

The 1.3 update also offers some bugfixes and enhancements from previous versions. More below: expand full story

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