Google Reader has made me a news feed addict, but it’s no-frills, small black text on white layout doesn’t do much for readability, especially when you have 391 feeds to distract you. I’ve become mindful that often, I’m scanning posts more than actually reading them and not always absorbing all the information. Whether this speed scanning is an evolutionary advantage or a chronic case of Nerd ADD, I’ve found it increasingly harder to just focus and read one post in it’s entirety.
Spreed, a start-up out of Toronto, is taking a new approach to news reading with their iPhone web app, Spreed News (try this link if you aren’t on an iPhone). At first it looks like a typical news reader, until you tap to post page. Press the play button, and the post is displayed to you, 1 – 5 words at a time for a fraction of a second. No scrolling or tapping necessary. The text is displayed at a larger size, white on a black background, increasing readability. The word speed is adjustable from 300-1200 WPM.
Watch the demo video for a better idea:
My first impressions are that it’s much less weird to use than you might think. I had no trouble reading at the default speed of 300 WPM, even though it felt like words were flashing by very quickly. The groupings of words seem to be purposely selected by algorithm, not just randomly selected. Perhaps this is why Spreed News is currently limited to only their selection of popular feeds; you cannot add your own yet. Spreed News still wears a “beta” badge, so hopefully that basic functionality will be available in the near future. I don’t think I would use Spreed exclusively for online reading, as I think there is value in being able to skim and scan, but I think this company is on to a good idea. I like Spreed’s focus on increasing speed and comprehension, and definitely try Spreed News further when I cave in to the gadget lust and get an iPhone… soon.