Speed reading has been around for decades. It's evolved from techniques like using a pen to guide the reader's eye more efficiently, to the new age of smartphone and tablet apps which are arguably more advanced and come with the ability to customize not only what you read but how it looks.
The latest development in speed reading has been Spritz, a technology — it's not available as an app yet — that flashes one word at a time, and anchors each one in the spot where the reader is gazing. Alas, it's not available in an app store, but if you're looking to tear through a book or backlog of news articles, there are more than a few other options, like Read Quick.
"We've found that speed reading on a mobile device helps people get to longer form content, as well as the "aspirational reading" - things that they mark in Pocket or other read-later applications that they hope to get to but never quite seem to otherwise," said Read Quick's Natali Morris.
While all the best apps we could find for this list are iOS-only, Android users can get a Spritz-like experience from an app descriptively named "Speed Reader Spritz like."
Here are five of the best.
Velocity allows users to read articles from Pocket and Instapaper, as well as text and rich text documents. The app displays the text one word at a time, like Spritz, the idea here is to prevent subvocalization, which is what happens when a person reads silently in his head. A user can adjust how many words come accross the screen per minute, with a range that runs from 100 to 1000. Adjustments can be made 20 words at a time. Velocity also lets the user save webpages for later. There are also three themes to pick from, so if a user would prefer to read black on white text, white on black, or sepia, he has the option. It's available in the App Store for $2.99.
Quickreader aims to get users out of the habit of only reading one word at a time, or having one "fixation" at time. The app has three modes: normal reading, speed reading, and a speed reading test. The speed reading mode highlights about three groups of words per line (unless the user wants to adjust that) and moves the reader through the passage. The reader can also customize number of words per minute, font, line spacing, the look of the guides, and colors for just about anything. The app works with Instapaper and comes with various free e-books. It's available for free as a "lite" version in the App Store.
Acceleread differs somewhat in that the app includes lessons and techniques on how to read faster. The app also keeps track of the user's stats relating to comprehension and speed. Any DRM-free publications are game for Acceleread. It's available in the App Store for free with available upgrades.
4: Read Quick
Read Quick also uses Instapaper. Plus, the app's browser lets the user pull in content from the internet. Stats keep track of how much the user reads, how fast, as well as preferred sources. ReadQuick caps out at 800 words per minute, with the option to adjust by five word increments. The company says the more the user reads, the faster he gets. While reading, ReadQuick also estimates the remaining time it will take to finish reading a given text. The app costs $10 in the App Store.
Once a user has picked from Instapaper, Readability, Pocket, Pinboard, or the web for text documents for reading material, he can also use Outread to speed read through them. Instead of flashing one word at time, the app shows bigger chunks of text. The apps guides the reader's eyes through passages by darkening and highlighting words and using them as markers. Users can adjust the length of the the markers and the speed at which they move. Other areas of customization include fonts, themes, and modes for dimming and highlighting. The app also comes with a directory for free e-books and classic books. It's available for $4.99 in the App Store.
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Erin Carson has nothing to disclose. She doesn't hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Erin Carson is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers the impact of social media in business and the ways technology is transforming the future of work.