The web's reading platform.

Joining Forces With Teehan+Lax

Below is a guest post by Jon Lax, partner at Teehan+Lax. Speaking for the Readability team, we couldn’t be more excited about this announcement. Without stealing Jon’s thunder, I’ll just preface it by saying that since we met we’ve been impressed by their curiosity, imagination and desire to build great things. – Rich Ziade


Earlier this year we were working on an update for our iPad app TweetMag. We were having some issues with how the app was retrieving content. Since we were using Readability’s API we thought we would send them an email and see if they had any suggestions. They responded immediately and within 24 hours we had solved a major technical problem that had plagued us for months.

That initial support email led to them giving us some amazing support on TweetMag, which led to meeting at SXSW 2011, which led to conversations, which leads me to this blog post.

We are very excited to announce that we (teehan+lax) are partnering with Readability. Truth be told we’ve already been working together for several months on some upcoming Readability releases. We’re just now ready to talk about it.

Why did we do this?

1) When we worked together on TweetMag we just slipped into an effortless collaboration that felt right. This is when design is at its best. We were both passionate about making the product as good as it could be.

We have incredible mutual respect for what we each do, they respect our design/UX skills, and we are in awe of their technical skills. This lets us focus on what we are each great at and then focus it at a common goal.

2) When Rich began discussing his vision for Readability we had a lot of ideas of how we could help him realize it. Ultimately, thinking about how we interact with content online is such a fascinating problem to solve, we jumped at the chance to work on it.

What are we doing?

At a high level we’re designing new products and features for Readability. We’re also involved in the product roadmap and vision.

When can we see what you’ve been working on?

Soon and it is quite awesome.

What are the terms of your deal?

We believe so much in Readability we’ve invested both our time and our money in the company.

We just wanted to let everyone know that we are very excited with this venture. Not since Rush toured with Kiss have Canada and America come together in such an awesome way.

if this then that

ifttt.com is a brand new thing that connects the ins-and-outs of websites like Readability with triggers and timers, using the simple logic: “if this then that.”

Why are we so excited? Our Ideas site is chock full of requests for integration with Evernote, Twitter, Tumblr, and other sites you use to find and to share the stories you read.

With ifttt, you can add to your reading list by email, by favorite-ing a tweet, starring in Google Reader, or even automatically add all posts from any RSS feed. You can also automatically share Readability favorites to Facebook, to Twitter, to Tumblr, and to other sites as ifttt expands.

Best of all, you can share the tasks you create as Recipes for other users. We’ve gone ahead and made a bunch of recipes to help you get started. We’re eager to hear how you use ifttt with Readability!

Signup is free and the brief introduction takes just a minute to read.

A New Web Mobile Experience for Readability

We’re pleased as punch today to release a new web mobile experience for all Readability subscribers. It’s been completely rebuilt from the ground up to be faster and more efficient on iOS and Android phones and tablets—hello, Nook Color!

Readability Mobile

Powered by cleaner code and new javascript libraries (including Zepto, Underscore, Backbone, iScroll, and Persistence), the new version is a third smaller and makes half as many requests.

How can you get it? If you’re a subscriber, you’re already got the new version. Just visit http://readability.com on your mobile device (or open the Home Screen app again if you made one)—voila!

There may be one or two things missing—swipe gestures for instance—but we’ll add them back in. For today, we wanted to do good things for the speed and usefulness of all mobile users rather than wait for all the features we dream of.

Please make suggestions on our Ideas site or send feedback straight to contact@readability.com

Readability update for Firefox 6

We made a quick update to the Readability addon for Firefox to ensure compatibility with the newly released Firefox 6.

If you’re using Firefox 6, jump over to http://readability.com/addons and just click “Install.”

If you’re upgrading from the earlier version of Readability in the Mozilla store, please be sure to disable that extension in the Add-ons Manager so only one Readability is active.)

Do let us know through our contact form if you have any questions.

Reeder for iPhone and iPad brings full Readability integration

A couple of months ago, we were excited to announce a partnership with Reeder that brought much of Readability’s functionality to Mac desktops. Today, Reeder – one of the most popular feed readers for iOS – brings full Readability functionality to the iPhone and iPad.
With Reeder 2.5 you can sync, read offline and manage your Readability reading list right inside of Reeder. We couldn’t be happier to join forces with one of the best-selling and beautifully designed reading apps around. If you haven’t experienced Reeder yet, go get it on iTunes.

We’ve got more big announcements coming soon as we continue to partner and expand Readability’s reach and usefulness. Until then, we hope you’ll enjoy this great implementation of Readability.

What’s community support?

I joined Readability in June as community support liaison for subscribers, publishers, developers, and the countless folks who install the Readability add-ons. If you’ve tweeted, emailed, or posted an idea on our ideas site, then I know your name and we’ve probably already made contact.

For years, I’ve provided technological help to artists and writers, publishers and arts organizations. Working together, we built boats and robots, tumblrs and websites, networks and teams. Explaining computers and finding fixes for little problems fills me with joy and I love a challenge.

Readability should be effortlessly simple; it’s my job to make sure you get great help when it’s anything else. I’m here to hear you, to help figure things out, then to share your experience with the rest of the team so we can improve Readability for everyone.

Right now, the whole team’s working on exciting new features and my big project is a support site with searchable questions and answers. As always, feel free to ask anything through the contact form and to share your suggestions on Readability Ideas.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Max

P.S. Kudos and stories of how Readability improves your reading experience are welcome, too.

Readability API Contest—The Winners!

Today we at Readability and our three judges—Sarah Chubb, Anil Dash, and Jeffrey Zeldman—are proud to announce the winners of our API Contest, where all comers put their skills on the line to vie for our $5,000 dollar grand prize.

We couldn’t be happier with the quality of the submissions we received – thank you to every developer who submitted; even if you didn’t win, your contributions to the Readability ecosystem are appreciated. Now let’s get down to business!

SECOND RUNNER UP ($1,000 Prize): The Telepaper

A photo of The Telepaper, a newspaper of your Readability reading list.

Reading has come full circle.

As far as creativity goes, The Telepaper wins out – they provide a service that allows you to make your digital reading list analog again, by printing runs of your reading list straight to newsprint and shipping them to you. The Telepaper is brought to you by Newspaper Club, a self-serve newsprint company.

The service is prohibitively expensive for small runs (around $49 for a single newspaper shipped), but like traditional print runs, prices go down with scale. This could make it potentially useful for groups making limited runs of select articles. The source code to glue the two services together is open source, and available on GitHub.

Congratulations to Newspaper Club for a fantastically inventive use of Readability.

FIRST RUNNER UP ($2,500 Prize): Libris Me

Sync your reading list to any device with libris.me

Now for some pure, unadulterated usefulness: Libris Me is a free windows application that allows you to sync articles to practically any reading device on the market. As Libris Me’s entry into the Readability contest, they’ve added full Readability support, meaning that you can automatically synchronize your Reading List onto all supported reading devices. This brings offline reading to many users who might not yet have a Kindle or iPhone/Android device.

Congratulations to the Libris Me team!

WINNER ($5,000 Prize): ReadIt

Screenshot of the home screen of ReadIt, and Android client for Readability

The Winner - ReadIt, an Android Client for Readability

Sometimes, the most obvious approach is the best one.

Readability user Fahim Karim came at us with a full-featured, well implemented, open source Readability Android client – and needless to say, we were thoroughly impressed.

With ReadIt, you can browse your reading list, read articles, favorite and archive, and add a new article to your reading list. It includes full style settings and offline support. All in all, this is a full-function, third party Readability client for Android. And it’s even open source.

A huge congratulations to Fahim, and thank you for providing such a useful asset to the Readability and Android communities.

Honorable Mentions

We had a good number of entries that didn’t quite make the winners’ podium but nonetheless deserve a shout-out for their efforts – here are a few:

Persnicketly—A web service designed to find the best articles within Readability.

Joliprint Mag—A service to send you a nightly PDF of new articles within your Reading List.

Readabilify—Format freedom for your Reading List (export to ePub, PDF, or Mobi). Includes a Rails engine for Readability open sourced and available here.

Congratulations to our winners, and thanks again to all contestants. We hope you had as much fun making them as we did judging them, and thanks for providing so much value to the Readability community.

A Better Web – Everywhere

There’s an important shift happening in the way we consume web content these days. From the beginning of the “web,” the almighty web browser enjoyed nearly exclusive status as the window to, well, the web. It’s still the primary view into how we find, read and watch just about everything.

Over the past couple of years, and more recently in more dramatic ways, the browser is being nudged aside by new an interesting ways to consume information. This shift is happening for a few reasons:

  • With the success of the iPhone, iPad and the Android platform, we’ve seen an explosion of apps that wrap a new experience around web content. Apps like Flipboard, Pulse and many others provide a cleaner and more engaging experience that is more finely tailored to your needs.
  • Until only a few years ago, your laptop or desktop computer dominated your internet experience. That’s changing. Tablets, phones with bigger screens and e-Readers are taking up more and more of our screen time.
  • Finally, it’s worth noting that a thought shift around the reusability of web content took hold a couple of years ago, sparked in no small part by the availability of Readability. In short, Readability and similar tools liberated content from its sole intended use and opened up new opportunities and possibilities.

Today, what’s materializing is a new breed of user behavior that diverges away from the almighty web page view. While we still whiz around the web via the web browser, we are committing large swaths of time on content we’ve decided to consume elsewhere. Whether it’s the Kindle on the commute home or your favorite reading app in bed, deep and meaningful engagement is increasingly happening outside the browser.

A New Metric

The foundational metrics that drive advertising and monetization around web content today – the page view, the ad impression and the click-through – are marginalized in these new contexts of consumption. Over the next few years, new meters will be installed that measure not only if you visited a particular piece of content, but how, when, where and for how long you engaged with it.

Your standard banner ad templates will experience similar pressure. As devices of all shapes and sizes eat into the traditional desktop experience, we’ll be forced to rethink advertising and marketing into these new “places” that people increasingly inhabit.

Enhancing the Web

As all this change occurs, it will be worthwhile to keep an eye on the web. While the web browser is being challenged, the basic tenets of what make the web so great should be guarded as we journey through this transition. The hyperlink should continue to work – into and back out of these new app experiences. We also hope to see browsers on mobile and tablet devices continue to open up and evolve, allowing for more innovation around the web (rather than away from it). One fear that we have is that apps will evolve that behave as end terminals that absorb information and activity but don’t feed back out. We hope the web’s multiplying effect is preserved in these new places of interaction.

It’s an incredibly exciting time for publishers, writers and readers. With these changes come some anxiety, but if harnessed properly new opportunities arise. We want to see the web continue to thrive whether by delivering the underlying data or the end-user experiences that are powering this important shift.

As for Readability, we hope to do our part via our platform, tools and API to help make the web better – everywhere.

Growing Roots: Integration & Performance Updates to Readability

Every once in a while we like to step back and make some improvements that might not be the prettiest, but are nonetheless necessary for a stable and healthy application. We like to call them growing roots releases – things that will help us to branch out further in the future.

Today, we released a number of those improvements meant to help our users integrate and interact with Readability. The visible ones are:

Print, Email and a Customizer for our Embed Buttons

Our embeddable buttons have seen some great adoption since launch, and we’ve now made them a bit more featureful and customizable. The embed now includes two new optional buttons – “Print” and “Email”. Both will allow you to have a clean, readable view of the content.

Fig 1: Button Embed Configurator

Additionally, we wanted to make it a bit simpler for our publishers to configure our embeddable buttons the way they’d like to see them on their website. You can now change background color, text color, and orientation as well as which buttons you’d like to see in your embed. See the new customization tool here on the free publisher tools page.

Faster Reading with support for both HTTP and HTTPS

Before today, all of Readability has been under HTTPS, no matter who you were or how you were using Readability. While great for security’s sake, this ends up having a significant performance tax, particularly at the beginning of a person’s browsing experience – and given the way Readability works (many one-off hits throughout the day, sporadically), this was often annoying for our users, especially those who may be overseas.

So today we’re opening up HTTP for all anonymous users and newly registered users. HTTPS will be the default for any existing users who have signed up to Readability so that they see a consistent security experience. All users have the option to disable “secure browsing” mode within their account preferences if they’re less concerned about security and more concerned about performance. Of course, all pages with clearly sensitive data associated with them (account pages, APIs) will still be served under HTTPS regardless.

Support for xAuth within our REST API

As we’ve written about before, there are a good number of people doing cool things with our API; not to mention the contest submissions we’ve received – details on that soon! But we’ve also heard a number of developers complaining about the difficulty getting running with OAuth and the degraded experience associated with pulling up a web view in a native application.

So today we’re offering xAuth support within our APIs. xAuth is a simpler protocol built on top of OAuth and popularized by Twitter. Support for xAuth is open to everyone who uses our APIs – hopefully interacting with the Readability API should now be simpler and more straightforward. More information on our API is available on our API docs page.

In tandem with xAuth support, we’ve also open sourced a python-based API Library for Readability. The source is available on GitHub, and the package can be installed through PyPi. Contributions welcome!

Perfect Match: Longform.org + Readability

One of the great byproducts of the trend towards quality long form reading on the web are all the great curators that have materialized. In most cases, it’s just people that love reading and want to share what they find. For the rest of us, it’s a welcome channel that stands tall above the swarm of links that fly at us in every direction. We owe the likes of Longreads, Brain Pickings, The Essayist and others a big “thank you” for doing the hard work of finding stuff worth our time.

Today, we’re excited to announce that one of our favorite sources of long form content, Longform.org (at readability.longform.org) has integrated support for Readability and our new Send to Kindle features.

But wait there’s more! Longform.org’s new sportswriting sister site, SportsFeat also brings Readability and Kindle support. Now you’ve got no excuses for not filling up that Kindle with great reading before you head off for the beach (or lake or backyard) this summer.

We’ve got more exciting partnerships to announce soon. Stay tuned on the Readability blog or follow Readability on Twitter.