Almost 3 years ago, I created a simple little tool that let you save a link to read later (even offline) on your desktop or laptop. At that time I never would have imagined I’d be able to use it like this.
Digest on the iPad
Digest is a new way to use RIL that I’ve been working on since late 2009. This was even before we had verification the iPad existed. Even so, I had the iPad in mind from day one of development. It is where Digest belonged.
Digest is Read It Later with a Brain
Digest looks at every article that you save to your list and automatically groups it into topics you choose. You can select from a predefined list of topics suggested to you based on what you’ve already saved or create your own custom topics. Think of it as reverse tagging. Instead of manually tagging each item in your list or moving them into folders, you simply tell Digest what topics/tags you care about and it takes care of the organization for you.
The Death of the Reading ‘List’
When you have as much screen real estate as you do on the iPad, how could I possibly do your reading list justice by simply displaying it in a list?
Digest takes your existing list and displays it in a beautiful new way. Using the topics you’ve chosen, Digest breaks your list into sections. Each section uses a dynamic layout that changes based on how new and relevant the content you’ve saved is.
The sections also extract special content from your list. Videos are found and displayed in their own column. Digest even looks for trends in your list. For example, if you save a lot of links from one particular source, they’ll be highlighted for you in their own section.
The Ultimate Newspaper
Combine this beautiful new layout with the fact you can save a link to Read It Later with just one click from any web browser or mobile phone and the end result is a fluid, customized newspaper delivered in real-time to your iPad, comprised of only content hand picked by you.
In addition to articles, I save a lot of video content to my list. And if there is one thing the iPad is better at than reading, it’s watching. On top of its ideal viewing form factor, the iPad supports HTML5 video in a much stronger way than the iPhone does. I wanted to make sure Read It Later took full advantage of this.
You’ll find video better supported in four areas of the iPad app:
When you open any direct video link, it will open in a dedicated video player. This offers much fewer distractions than opening a YouTube page in RIL’s standard reading view. Plus, it just looks awesome.
Watch It Later Topic
One of the predefined topics you can select from in Digest is a Videos topic. This serves as your personal ‘Watch It Later’ channel and shows any item within your reading list that contains a video.
Within the Digest view (as mentioned above), videos are pulled from each topic and separated from your list so they are easy to find.
Embedded Videos in Text View
If you are a Digest user, you’ll find embedded video appears within the text view. This means while reading the text view, you do not have to switch to the web view just to find any embedded media in articles.
While Digest is an awesome way to consume your reading list on the iPad, there is still something to the raw efficiency offered by the list view. The list view is the ‘backside’ of Read It Later on the iPad and is the view you are familiar with on the iPhone. This list view is the real workhorse of Read It Later and offers a robust feature set to tackle even the longest reading lists. The list view still offers sorting and searching filters and a swipe action menu for quick list management and sharing. Digest topics can even be viewed in list format, searched and sorted.
Even without Digest, the list view of Read It Later is incredibly robust and offers enough functionality to stand completely alone.
Read It Later brought offline reading to the ‘read later’ reading list almost 3 years ago and today, the iPad app is no exception. RIL can download the full web page including images and layout or a stripped down text view. You can easily flip between either mode with a single tap.
Having both views on a screen this size is critical. When I’m viewing design blogs, the web view is the only true way to get the full sense of every detail. It also works perfectly for sites that offer informational sidebars, non-article content like forums or non-traditional layouts. When I get to a long form article, I simply switch over to the text view and enjoy a simplified reading experience.
It’s the best of both worlds. And for a Wifi-only iPad, it’s even better.
One of most powerful features of Read It Later is probably one of its least well known. Read It Later on the iPad remembers where you left off in every article. Not just on the iPad, but everywhere.
Your position is synced with every place you access Read It Later. This means you can start reading an article on your computer, get up, grab your phone and pick up exactly where you left off.
RIL for the iPad fully supports position syncing and works in combination with your iPhone and computer despite screen size differences.
What Does It Cost?
I have to say to every single person who has already purchased Read It Later Pro on the iPhone… thank you. The support you have provided has allowed me to turn a simple little idea into a job and into a living and that is an incredibly overwhelming thing.
Read It Later Pro
Read It Later for iPad is a universal app. This means if you’ve already purchased Read It Later Pro on the iPhone, you already own Read It Later Pro for the iPad. For new users, the price remains the same at $4.99.
Get Read It Later Pro (iTunes Link)
Read It Later Free
In addition to Read It Later Pro, Read It Later Free is a complete and powerful app in its own right and is available today alongside Pro. (See a comparison of the two here)
Get Read It Later Free (iTunes Link)
Digest is a completely new type of product. It is an add-on to all existing apps and works even independently outside of those apps. While Digest is separate, your Digest purchase is completely portable. This means that no matter where you get it, Digest is added to your account and is then available everywhere. In addition to the web version, Digest is now supported by both Read It Later Free and Pro on both the iPhone and iPad. This means if you have no interest in Pro’s features but still would like Digest, you can still use it within the free apps.
While in beta, Digest will continue to be only a one-time $5 purchase. You can add Digest to your account on the web here or directly within either iPad app using in-app purchase.
This is simply the first version of Read It Later on the iPad. Expect a lot more awesomeness coming down the line in the next few weeks/months.
I also want to say a big thanks to my friends at OpenCalais. They provide an integral part of the data I use behind Digest. Digest has been an enormous undertaking for a one man show and the support they’ve given in flushing this out has been tremendous.