Speed-reading is something a lot of people talk about; very few really learn the trick. I remember a few months back when I stumbled on a Quora thread where some amazing ideas and tips were shared for learning to read quickly.
Imagine if you could skip all that learning and instead focus on doing something that builds your capability to read faster? That's precisely what Outread does. It's an exciting, feature-packed, minimalist app that helps you speed-read and refine your ability to speed-read simultaneously.
I must admit that I haven't tried many software-based methods to learn to speed-read. Most of what I've tried comes from applying theories to practice. But one huge barrier to this approach was delimiting the concept of sub-vocalization.
An App For Speed-reading
Stop. When you are reading this sentence, notice how you are actually using an inner voice to read the words? That's called sub-vocalization and that's the single biggest culprit in reducing the speed at which you read. If you can mute the inner voice, if you can prevent yourself from actually “voicing” the words, you'd read pretty fast. But it can take a lot of effort and time to minimize or completely get rid of sub-vocalization.
Outread is designed to help you reduce sub-vocalization and in fact get rid of it right from the start. It's simple, effective and easy to use and configure. And since it works like a reader (Pocket, Instapaper etc.), you can use Outread to save articles for later and archive them too.
How Does Outread Work?
Outread highlights phrases from the text sequentially so that you get to read the phrase as fast as you can. The rest of the text of any article that you have saved to Outread is greyed out for greater focus.
You can configure the speed and the length of the highlight (marker text) from the preferences pane. Once you find the optimal speed to begin with, you'll notice that you gradually master the art of speed-reading. You can then increase the speed as you go along.
The reason why Outread is awesome is because it just works. There are no rules to learn, no theories to memorize and remember as you try to speed-read your way. In fact, there's no conscious effort involved: you fire up the app, tap on an article, set the parameters and get started. Just like that.
How good is Outread?
Of the speed-reading apps out on the App Store, I think Outread is the best. That goes for its features (minimalist), for its interface (perfect blend of styles and distraction-free elements), for its configuration (which works best because of its limited nature) and the way it implements the strategy.
Outread can link to your Pocket, Instapaper or Readability accounts and can pull articles that you save to these services. You can catch up with your reading list While you learn to speed-read. Pretty effective.
Having used Outread, it seems a little odd to switch back to Instapaper. It's surprising how sub-vocalization is almost gone when I read articles on Outread. And that definitely has a huge impact on the reading speed.
One gripe that I have with iOS 7 is that it doesn't let me save articles or pieces of text to third-party apps right from within the share sheet (unless you use a jailbreak tweak). But if you copy something to the iOS clipboard, it's readily available in Outread.
Outread is available for iPhone and iPad.