Greg Morris

Designer, Pretend Photographer, Dad

Trying to sum up my thoughts on Readwise Reader

I’ve tried several times to articulate my feelings on Readwise Reader, but failed every time. Sometimes frustratingly so because I think a lot of my problems relate to things I feel when using it. Don’t get me wrong it works great, and some features are really well done, it just doesn’t feel like it wants me to enjoy reading.

So, I’m stuck trying to pin down thoughts on sometimes ephemeral feelings provoked by an app. You can’t measure and compare feelings, but you know when they just don’t push your buttons. In contrast to Matter that I have been using as my read it later app for quite a while, it feels strange. With all its straight edges and hollo like colours, it always strikes me as industrial.

It feels like it is made to hack my reading. I can swipe this way and that way, highlighting until my heart’s content. Optimised to get through my queue as quickly and as easy as possible by pushing me towards using keyboard shortcuts, recommending highlights and archiving everything for use later on. If I’m too busy to even read the article, I can ask AI to summarise it for me, and even write talking points on it.

If that’s your thing, and I believe it is for many people, this app is great. There are loads of options and what seems like a never-ending series of screen options. It’s just not for me, and that’s OK. Matt Birchler did an really great overview of its features and you can check it out below. I’d highly recommend a subscribe to Matts channel too, it’s one of my favourites.

For a reading app, I think it’s important to make reading the most important factor. Everything else should get out of the way, with intuitive and easy to reach controls. Otherwise, you’re in danger of creating a busy environment that leads to an overwhelming feeling once articles build up.

I am currently still using both Readwise and Matter for different reasons. Reader to fly through my subscribed feeds and work related newsletter reading, and Matter to relax whilst catching up on my saved articles. With them both being premium services, and reasonably expensive ones at that, this can’t continue once my free trial is up. There are no difficult decision to make for me, but I love that Reader exists. Both to push Matter forward and to offer alternatives for people that need different things. If you’re in the market, it’s worth checking out.

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