Once you realize that people are throwing so much good stuff onto the web that you can never, ever keep up with it all, you’ll find yourself with a dilemma: how to find the easiest, most efficient way to enjoy the best stuff out there whenever you have the time.
Many web-savvy firms have come to the same realization and made the tools to help you with this task. Here are the best grabbers, savers, sorters, and other read/watch/share apps I know about.
SAVE-FOR-LATER READING APPS
Good reads can come from anywhere: email, Twitter, Facebook, a coworker telling you about something at lunch and so on. And, of course, you’re in front of a different device every time something good comes up.
Three reading ecosystems out there tackle the need to save, read, and share good web stuff whenever you want. All of these apps are available for both iOS and Android devices, and also work in whatever full web browser you prefer:
- Instapaper: Strips articles down to their core body text and images and saves them in a tidy reading list.
- Pocket: Formerly named Read It Later, now saves YouTube clips and other videos, along with text-focused articles.
- Readability: A more journalism-conscious and text-focused save-and-read app.
KEEP UP ON IMPORTANT FEEDS
We’re long past the funeral for Google Reader, the preeminent tool for tracking headlines or RSS feeds from news sites, blogs and other frequently updating sites. Thankfully, a lot of apps sprung up to support those displaced by Reader’s exit. These are the services that have stood out in the aftermath.
- LinkedIn Pulse: The most graphical and news-focused of the alternatives. More suitable for those who like to browse a wide selection of major sources. It’s like browsing a subway newsstand.
- Feedly: The most pleasingly eye-catching of modern readers and also the most adaptable to the kind of view you want – either lots of thumbnails, or just-the-text-ma’am.
- Digg Reader: From the same folks as the ever-face-lifting site Digg. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but it’s my personal favorite among the new readers. Perhaps because it has the best balance between minimalism and user-helping features.
- The Old Reader: Not quite an app just yet, but this tool is very, very much like the old Google Reader interface, just like it says on the tin.
The marquee name in apps that take the unruly links, re-shares and rants from your Facebook and Twitter is Flipboard. It works great on iPads and Android tablets, it always finds the cat photos in your Facebook feed, and it can mix in articles from other sources to add a bit of gravitas to your friends’ and followers’ links.
There are some iPad-based alternatives to FlipBoard, ably rounded up by productivity blog Lifehacker. For those seeking something a bit more web-friendly, previously mentioned Pulse can pull in Facebook and Twitter contacts and some links. Paper.li can do the same, but it’s actually no longer an app and generates a great deal more social/promoted noise, as well as automatically tweets/shares out your “digest” of links, unless you consciously set it otherwise.