Web App Review: SpreedNews
The news used to be more simple. You had your choice of three major television networks, newspaper, magazines, or radio. Twenty-four-hour cable news was yet to come and the Internet was not even a glimmer in Al Gore's eye. If the constant bombardment of information via satellite broadcast wasn't enough to overwhelm the mere mortal, along came the Internet with the rise of blogging (ahem) and countless web sites feeding information. Something had to be done to make information easier to digest for the busy person on the go, and Spreed:News uses an innovative way to deliver it. Read on for the review!
What is Spreed:News?
Spreed:News is, in effect, a speed-reading web-based app that uses the power of the Internet and computing to deliver the news or other articles and text. It presents the text in small groups, at a rapid pace, to the central part of your iPhone screen. You can control the speed you receive the information by adjusting the words per minute (WPM) for a comfortable pace (more on that later).
There are a variety of pre-set news sources to choose from, like CNN Top Stories, Blog Maverick, ESPN - Headlines, and People.com, to name several. The ability to customize the types of news and articles you are interested in is also a feature of Spreed:News.
When you first visit the site on your iPhone at http://spreednews.com, you'll have the opportunity to create an account with Spreed:News. The benefits of creating an account are involvement in the forum and receiving updates on new products and improvements for the app. Using Spreed:News does not require opening an account and use of the app is also free.
Also on the main page of the site is a "Customize" button. Tapping on it permits you to choose from several different categories so that each time you visit Spreed:News, you can select from sites and read news and articles that match your interests.
As I see it, there are three main benefits of using Spreed:News, and they are somewhat interrelated. First, it increases your ability to read faster. Second, it presents the information in such a way that, as you learn to read faster, you can digest larger amounts of information in shorter periods of time. Finally, it makes it much easier to read on a mobile device, like the iPhone. Although the iPhone sports a best-in-class Internet browser for rendering full web pages, it goes without saying that ALL mobile devices leave much to be desired for reading large amounts of information due to the small screen real-estate. Even the iPhone, with it's expansive screen, benefits greatly from this eye-friendly presentation of information.
Once you have customized your interests and selected a news source, just tap on the stories that interest you, set your desired WPM, and start reading the word groupings as they flash in front of your eyes - it's that easy. Or is it?
What's It REALLY Like?
Getting the hang of speed-reading with Spreed:News is a bit intimidating at first, but with a little practice, you'll find yourself reading faster than ever in no time at all. It is suggested that you begin by ramping up the speed to 500 WPM or so (it will seem crazy-fast) and then focus on the center of the screen. As the word groupings fly by, don't try to read each separate word but instead just try and focus on the entire word groupings in order to understand the meaning of the word groupings rather than focusing on each individual word. Most likely the higher speed setting will leave you in the dust, but then scale the speed back to a more reasonable 300 WPM and you just may be surprised at how easily you follow the information.
A Spreed:News user and fan, Michael, has put together a helpful video here, so I recommend you take a look so you can get a feel for how it works. Thanks, Michael!
The exciting thing about Spreed:News, aside from the obvious way in which it speeds up your ability to digest news and information, is the fact that the company is very responsive to user feedback and improvements are implemented all the time. Also, once you finish reading an article, you are presented with a screen with several options. Users can rate articles so you can see what is recommended reading and what isn't, post the article on Twitter, send it to a friend, post it on Facebook, and leave feedback. Spreed:News is not only a great way to read information, but it's also a great way to share the information with others in a variety of ways.
I've never been a huge fan of web apps on the iPhone. I'm more of a 3rd party resident app kind of guy, most likely due to my Palm and Windows Mobile upbringing. However, there are a few gems out there in the web app world, and Spreed:News is one of them.
It is challenging at first to get used to the innovative method of reading word groupings at a high rate of speed on your iPhone, but if you hang in there for a little bit, you will be rewarded with increased reading speed, surprising comprehension, and time savings in dealing with your daily information overload. I highly recommend you give it a try - at the low price of FREE, what are you waiting for?