The web's reading platform.

Read Twitter Links Comfortably with Tweetbot & Readability

The experience of opening and reading links via Twitter on your mobile phone is less than ideal. Web pages just aren’t designed to handle all the shapes and sizes of devices you’re reading on—or at least they weren’t. Today that changes.

TweetbotWe’re thrilled to announce a partnership with one of the most beautifully designed Twitter clients out there: Tweetbot for iPhone. Now, when you open a shared link from within Tweetbot, with one flip of the switch you can transform the page into a clean, Readability-powered reading view.
Tweetbot MobilizerOf course, you can also send articles to your Readability Reading List from within Tweetbot and many other Twitter clients, but with the Readability mobile view, the Tweetbot reading experience just got a whole lot better.

This integration highlights yet another way that Readability is enhancing the reading experience, whether it’s on your browser or on your device. If you’re building an app or service that could take advantage of Readability’s powerful parser and mobilizer capabilities, we’d love to hear from you.

You can purchase Tweetbot on iTunes. Happy reading…in Tweetbot!

UPDATE: The Tweetbot guys just pulled a “one more thing” on all of us and released Tweetbot for iPad, with Readability support as well—go get it!

Readability + Pulse

Today we’re announcing a partnership with one of the most popular news-reading apps out there: Pulse. Pulse transforms your favorite websites into a colorful, interactive mosaic and has led the way on iOS and Android since the day it launched. We’re thrilled to be working with their fantastic team to bring the full power of Readability to the Pulse experience.

So, starting now,  you can add your Readability Reading List to your Pulse page:

It’s a simple way to catch up on your queue without having to leave the Pulse app. And once you’ve added Readability, starring an article inside Pulse will automatically add it to your Readability Reading List. Now you can scan the best content on the web and save interesting stuff for later, all in one place. Finally, as part of our collaboration, Pulse has adopted Readability’s world-class parser to enhance the reading experience for all of their millions of users.

Making our reading lists available wherever people read is just one of the ways we’re transforming Readability from a service to a platform. We relish the chance to work with incredible teams like the one behind Pulse, so if you’re doing interesting things that could benefit from an integrated reading list or a top-notch parser, get in touch. And keep posted for lots of big announcements to come.

Pulse is free and available on the iPhone, iPad and Android.

500!

Lots of apps and services love to throw around the big stats. “We’ve just reached our millionth…” or “X million downloads!” It’s a common headline on tech blog sites. For us at Readability, there’s one stat that just crept up on us that we’re really psyched about.

Since our launch less than a year ago, we’ve given away over 500 API keys to partners, developers and publishers. While it doesn’t sounds as sexy as “hundreds of thousands” or “millions” (though we’ve got plenty of those as well), this number carries special meaning for us.

We always viewed Readability as more than just a web app and browser add-on. For us, it represents an enabling technology that elevates the reading experience within and beyond the web browser and into other apps and devices. From great Twitter clients like Tweetbot and Twitterific to the amazing integration in Reeder for iOS and OSX, we’re blown away by all the time and energy others are investing in Readability.

If you’re a publisher or developer, we’d love to work with you to further enhance and enrich the reading experience within your app or publication. We’ve worked hard to make our API incredibly easy to work with and as low-overhead as possible. You can check it out here. If you’re interested, get in touch and we’ll provide you with your own keys to Readability.

While we’re excited about what the next 500 developers bring to the Readability story, we just want to thank the developers and partners that have helped turn Readability from an app into a true movement around reading.

Readability for Everyone

We have some great news to share: we’ve removed the limits on free Readability accounts. All users—free and paying—now get unlimited access to their Reading List, Favorites, Archives, and all our other features.

I wanted to take a quick minute to run through our motivations for the changes. This tweak helps us accomplish our goals in two ways:

First, we wanted to better distinguish the difference between having access to features and supporting content creation. As supporting great writing on the web is one of our key goals, having features tied to our support platform felt like it was muddling the message. So now they’re distinct: all features are free, and supporting writing still exists as a platform.

Second, we wanted to keep Readability as open as possible so that third-party integrators to our service can access all of our features as well, without limitations. More and more, Readability is becoming the piping around reading experiences on the web. Apps like Reeder, Longform, and others are tightly integrating with the Readability API to access readable content and reading lists. We love partners like this, and opening up our platform so that any application can create a reading list for a user, and access readable content, is another one of our key goals.

With those motivations in mind, we’re currently decoupling application features and supporting publishers (and Readability). “Premium” is now becoming “Subscriber”, and the dollars you can now optionally pay are purely for supporting us and writers, rather than to avoid the pain of any software-imposed limits we previously had.

We hope you enjoy the newly opened Readability. We’re blown away by the thousands of you who have chosen to support writers through our platform, and we’re committed to developing new ways for Readability Subscribers to encourage and consume great writing on the web.

Happy Reading!

Email Right Into Your Readability Reading List — From Anywhere

Readability’s browser add-ons are an incredibly popular way to read comfortably within your favorite browser and save web articles for reading later. Still, browsing these days has taken on a whole new meaning. We’re browsing inside of Twitter clients and news apps. We’re browsing on our mobile phones and tablets. The “browser” as we know it is giving way to all sorts of new ways to browse and discover content.

Regardless of what app or device you’re using, we wanted to make it incredibly easy to send articles into your reading list. Starting today, every Readability account includes its own special email address. If you’re already signed up, you can find yours here. To add any web article to your reading list, simply send an email with one or more web links to your assigned email address and it’ll automatically be added.

You can add links from popular news apps like Pulse, Zite and Flipboard as well as your favorite Twitter client or mobile web browser.

If you haven’t done so yet, get your free Readability account now. Regardless of where you find content worth reading, it’s easier than ever to enrich your Readability experience.

Longform’s Favorite Finds of 2011

Every day Longform highlights three or four outstanding pieces of non-fiction. Some are brand new, others from as far back as the 1800s. When we started the site, we worried that we might run out of older pieces eventually. In retrospect, that fear was ridiculous. With over a century of magazines and newspapers publishing longform journalism, the well of great stories waiting to be discovered is unfathomably deep.

At this point, the biggest hurdle is that most magazines haven’t begun digitizing the bulk of their archives. We’ve found hundreds of masterful pieces that we know people would love to read, but they’re only available as scanned PDFs or on Google Books. Articles like these deserve the kind of focused, distraction-free reading experience that Readability has made possible, and that requires a text version.

The original publishers are certainly not to blame. Digitizing decades worth of writing is expensive, time consuming, and doesn’t help sell print subscriptions. But here’s what we’ve learned editing Longform: Great stories don’t have expiration dates. Classic stories get clicked just as much as fresh ones. Hopefully, magazines with rich archives will start to see them as a long-term asset that yields dividends in the form of prestige and new audiences. Classic journalism is part of our shared history, and should be available to students, researchers, writers—and people who want awesome stuff to read on their commute.

So, as the internet finishes up another epic and largely gratuitous season of year-end lists, here’s one more: our favorite “finds” of 2011, five classic stories that were among the most read on Longform this year. (We also compiled a Best of 2011 collection, which includes handy Readability buttons.) If you found something amazing this year, let us know: editors@longform.org.

Fifteen Years of the Salto Mortale
Kenneth Tynan • New Yorker • Feb 1978

Aaron Lammer: I read this on a cross-country flight, and at 22,000 words it took nearly the entire trip to finish. Superficially, it’s a profile of Johnny Carson at the top of his game, an entertainment figure unparalleled both in 1978 and in the present. The piece is so much more, though—both a history of the talk show and a probing look at the form of television itself. Kenneth Tynan puts himself in the mindset of both Carson’s sharpest critics and his adoring audience, and finds a disarmingly complex character. A star who didn’t sing, dance, or act, Carson was the ultimate icon of the televisual age.

Tynan unapologetically depicts Carson as a cold man—driven, demanding, and hard on those he worked with. These themes were echoed heavily in the coverage of Steve Jobs when he died, though I didn’t read a piece on Jobs that so effectively managed to braid the darkness and the glory into a single thread. Both Carson and Jobs were perfectionists without true competition; unique species who left huge marks on the popular consciousness but no true heirs. Even if TV is made obsolete, this profile will live on as essential document of a place and time where an ordinary man could become a walking god purely on the basis of his ability to stare at a camera every night and “talk.”

The True Life Confessions of Fleetwood Mac
Cameron Crowe, Rolling Stone • Mar 1977

Gretchen Gavett: There comes a time in every aging hipster’s life when listening to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours on vinyl for weeks at a time seems like a good idea. My “Gold Dust Woman” month was this past June. And, naturally, I had to track down the accompanying “how-they-made-this-record-while-fighting-and-wearing-embellished-capes-and-tight-pants” longform article. I found it the old-fashioned way: frantically searching the internet (I can call that “old-fashioned” because my detective work didn’t involve Twitter). Sometimes this method ends in frustration, either because the article doesn’t exist (see: my fruitless quest to find the definitive “Macho Man” Randy Savage article written while he was alive) or because it’s only available behind a paywall or as a PDF. This time, though, I lucked out: Someone reprinted an epic and slightly clunky 1977 Cameron Crowe article from Rolling Stone about the making of Rumours.

Crowe had yet to turn 20 when the piece came out, but his days of writing regularly for the magazine were coming to an end. And so were the band members’ relationships—everyone was breaking up with everyone else. The result is a story about emerging fame and whispering secrets not-so-quietly to the world, a strange mirror to the record itself. And I should know. I can sing the entire thing from memory. Poor, poor downstairs neighbors.

The True Story of Lady Bryon’s Life
Harriet Beecher Stowe • The Atlantic • Sep 1869

Elon Green: Found by following a link from The Atlantic‘s fantastic Famous (and Infamous) Contributors page, this story was a series of surprises. Here’s a piece that is both ancient (at least by the standards of longform journalism) and genuinely sordid; it’s written by Harriet Beecher Stowe; and it’s published in The Atlantic! Surely I’m not the only one who associates this wonderful magazine with think-pieces on urban sprawl, not 13,000-word tales of incest. What I love about the story is it hinges on a line that, at least from a 21st-century vantage point, is so vague you could easily miss it: “secret adulterous intrigue.” It says nothing, and everything, and it’s the lynchpin of this classic read.

My Mother’s Killer
James Ellroy • GQ • Jan 1994

Aaron Lammer: I’ve never read any of James Ellroy’s novels. I don’t read a tremendous amount of mystery or noir, and given the amount of reading that goes into editing Longform, I don’t read all that many books anymore. Boo hoo. But one of the great pleasures of reading bucketloads of articles is the repeated opportunities to get passing glimpses of the personalities lurking in unexplored corners of the bookstore. This one just slapped me in the face.

Ellroy, one of the great hard-boiled crime novelists of his time, assigns himself to investigate the 1958 murder of his mother. He recreates the night of her death as she heads out drinking, leaves with a strange man, and eventually is discovered the next morning next to a Little League field. It’s a mystery seen through the eyes of a ten-year-old Ellroy and grizzled old cops straining to remember an unsolved case. After reading dozens of articles on brutal murders, it’s rare to find something so raw and tender that you almost want to look away. Cheers to GQ for rescuing it from their archive.

A Fan’s Notes on Earl Monroe
Woody Allen • Sport • Nov 1977

Max Linsky: OK, so I didn’t exactly “find” this story. I retyped it by hand. That’s still how most magazines put their old stuff online, which helps explain why so little of it is available—transcription is a terrific pain in the ass. Allen’s masterpiece was worth it, though. It’s one of those things the internet just deserves to have.

“A Fan’s Notes” is about more than sports, which is always what makes for great sportswriting. Allen compares Monroe to Brando, rightly casting the Knick point guard as an entertainer years before the NBA thought of its stars that way. Monroe is an artist, Allen writes, not just a player—he was a constant threat to do something unexpected and amazing. You couldn’t look away. Allen is so enamored with Monroe’s genius—the piece is more of a love letter than anything else—that at one point he admits that he’d rather his beloved Knicks lose than see Monroe sublimate his game for the good of the team.

The essay’s funny, too, of course. After fawning over Monroe from afar, Allen goes to his Upper West Side townhouse for an interview and turns into a babbling pool of awkwardness when an “unbelievably beautiful” woman named Tina opens the door. Monroe isn’t home, and he never shows—Allen waits for an hour mumbling to Tina, then leaves more enamored with his hero than ever. “Whatever he was doing,” Allen writes, “I admired him for his total unconcern. Tina said he would be very upset that he had missed me, but I knew it was not the kind of thing Earl Monroe would dwell on with the anguish of a Raskolnikov.”

Readability has partnered with Longform to pursue projects that pair great writing with innovative delivery, including the forthcoming Longform iPad app.

Introducing the rdd.me API

One of the more useful tools in the Readability toolbox has been our link shortener, rdd.me. The interesting bit about rdd.me is simple: When an article is linked to through rdd.me, it offers up the availability to view the content in a clean, readable view.

A screenshot of the rdd.me web interface.

To date, it’s been useful for a number of diligent sharers who have been kind enough to link their followers to it via a web interface at rdd.me. However, it’s been a bit too walled-garden for our tastes—we’d like people to be able to share readable links no matter where they are.

That’s why we’ve added a simple API to rdd.me.

Like all other shortener APIs, this one is dead simple: post a link, get back a JSON response together with the shortened URL. If you require metadata, you can do one more GET to retrieve the known title, author, excerpt, and word count of the article as Readability understands it.

We’d love to see what you build with the rdd.me API. In fact, only hours after we released the new Readability, one of our more stalwart users created a Safari extension that will automatically shorten any URL you’re on with the rdd.me API. Thanks for sharing, Nghia.

The rdd.me API docs are here. Feel free to play around, and as always, let us know if you have any questions.

Readability & Instapaper

Competition and conflict may make for entertaining industry gossip, but reality is far less dramatic. Since last year, we’ve gotten to know Marco Arment, the creator of Instapaper and we both made a good faith effort to work together. As Marco said yesterday, none of the recent developments caught anyone by surprise. As recently as a couple of weeks ago we spoke about our respective ventures and where things are going.

It seems like anyone and everyone is becoming increasingly interested in this space. While things are getting more and more crowded, there’s no mistaking that Readability and Instapaper blazed the trail. From the tiny upstarts to Apple, we’re proud to share the distinction of setting off this important trend in reading with Instapaper. We have nothing but respect for Marco and his work.

It’s easy to get caught up in the industry chatter and lose sight of how early days this all is. We’re just starting to shape this landscape and one thing we’ve learned is that the terrain keeps shifting and morphing. Who knows, we may find ourselves crossing paths again. Never say never.

Reading Needs a Platform: Introducing the New Readability

We’ve been fairly quiet for the last few months here at Readability HQ, and for good reason: today we’re unveiling an expansion of our service that is going to change the way you read the web.

Wherever you read — your browser, iPhone, iPad, your Amazon Kindle — Readability is going to be there. For free.

Yes, Free

With this release, Readability is available at no cost. Sign-up and you’ll have your own profile and reading list in no time. Both Readability accounts and our companion apps will always be completely free, but we also offer a premium experience for users who want additional features and an easy way to support their favorite writers and publishers.

iOS, Here We Come!

Readability is on its way to the iTunes App Store. Our new apps for the iPhone and iPad are free and undeniably beautiful. We’ve partnered with the design wizards at Teehan+Lax to deliver a simple, elegant experience featuring gorgeous typography from some of the best in type: Hoefler & Frere-Jones. There’s never been a better way to read the web on iOS. Readability for iOS is submitted and awaiting approval from Apple.

A New Web Mobile Experience

From day one we’ve been committed to delivering the full Readability experience on the rich mobile web. We’ve completely revamped Readability to work beautifully within the web browser on smartphones and tablets. Built from the ground up as a rich HTML5 web application, web mobile Readability brings many of the conveniences of native apps to your smartphone’s browser, including complete offline support.

A reading platform

We’ve always seen Readability as more than just a tool or an app. Wherever you’re finding, reading, and sharing great writing, we want Readability to be by your side. So, in addition to the free tools we’ve made available to writers and publishers, we’re opening the entire Readability feature set — including our world-class parser — to anyone interested in innovating around the reading experience. Our goal is to enable publishers and developers to enrich their own services and apps with Readability.

Today, that means your Readability list is available within incredible apps like Reeder and TweetMag — and that’s just the beginning. Expect major announcements in the near future about new partnerships and apps joining the Readability family. Check back here or follow us on Twitter to get the latest updates.

We believe there has never been a better time to be a reader, and we’re excited to be part of the revolution around the written word on the web.

Happy reading!

Firefox 7 and 8

Even though the latest version of Readability has been tested with Firefox 7 and 8, an incompatibility error has appeared for many users after Firefox does an automatic update. It should be as simple as re-installing from our add-ons page: http://readability.com/addons

We’re working on a more permanent solution to prevent this from happening in all future versions of Firefox. Let us know if you have any questions.