Reading is dope, so if you want to do more of it you should probably get better at it. The average human meat sack can inhale words through their eyes at a prodigious 250 words per minute, but speed-reading software can supposedly up your intake to close to 1000 words per minute if you’re dedicated. Be warned: Various studies have shown that speed-reading methods might not be as effective as slower, traditional reading, and may dampen comprehension.
Either way, it will take more than that to get you through Gravity’s Rainbow (I suggest you put some money on it) but these speed-reading apps should help you build up the confidence you’ll need to believe in yourself long enough to finish it.
It’s always a surprise to me when I talk to someone who doesn’t use Chrome on their iPhone. Apparently die-hard Safari fans exist, and if you use the built-in Reading List feature you’re probably getting all your reading done in there anyway. The Boba app brings a bit of speed-reading functionality to whatever article you’re consuming through a Safari extension.
Find an article, tap the share button, and enable the speed-reading extension. You’ll see the speed-reading interface on the bottom of the screen while the plaintext version of the article hangs out above. You can adjust the words per minute anywhere from 50 to 450 depending on your reading level, but that’s about it in terms of customisation.
Boba uses Spritz, a speed-reading service that can be integrated into a variety of apps. The Boba app itself is a web browser that links to popular news outlets and lets you speed read there, but its interface is clumsy.
Outread lets you pull from reading lists you already have. Finding a story is easy, thanks to its integration with other reading and bookmarking services (like Pocket or Instapaper). Train readers can relax; Outread also supports offline reading. In terms of customisation, you can futz with features such as reading speed, font and size, and set the app to day or night mode if you’re more of an evening reader.
Outread features two reading modes: Rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) and guided highlighting mode. The RSVP method displays the text one word at a time in the centre of your screen. Since your eyes aren’t panning and scrolling you can focus on a single spot on your phone and read at a faster clip as the words are swapped out like a fast-moving slideshow. Spritz uses the same RSVP method to accomplish the same task.
Guided highlighting mode takes your classic full page of text and bolds the words as it moves through them, training your eyes to follow the highlighted phrase while the rest of the text is greyed out, making it difficult to revisit previously read words.
There are more ways to speed-read then words coming at you one at a time. ReadMe! is an iPhone and Android app that uses both Spritz and the BeeLine method of speed-reading, which uses colours to help users separate words and sentences.
A ReadMe! subscription will run you $1.49 per month or $7.99 per year and grant you offline Spritz and BeeLine use, synchronisation of books and bookmarks among your devices, and PDF support.
If you like BeeLine you can install its Chrome extension, which lets you use it free for 30 days and five times per day after that. A $US10 ($13) per year subscription is available, as is a $US30 ($40) per year option that includes five extra licenses as well as another five licenses for low-income students.
What’s your smartwatch doing right now? Nothing? Good. Get WearReader and turn it into the tiniest e-reader you own. Your watch’s screen is the perfect size for displaying a single word anyway.
WearReader works on the Apple Watch and Android smartwatches and lets you read from your wrist. You can start reading from your smartphone and select where to start reading on your smartwatch down to the word. It also lets you import files from your iCloud or Dropbox account (supported formats include ePub books, Microsoft Word docs, text files and PDFs), or upload them to the device itself.
You can fast forward or rewind if you missed a few words, and adjust the speed anywhere from 50 to 1000 words per minute. If you aren’t a fan of RSVP-style reading then you can display it as a normal block of text, but where’s the fun in that?