Free speed-reading apps to help you survive readers

Even the science majors understand the struggle of having to read 100 pages a day with the expectation of remembering every minute detail because the quiz you’re going to have the next day is ruthless. Sometimes, students are under the impression that reading slower will increase comprehension — but this isn’t always true. A person’s reading speed is based on his or her speaking speed. People read text as if it were a conversation, so the faster you talk, the faster you read. But thanks to technology, there are now ways to improve your reading speed easily — and for free. Here are a few apps and online services we’ve examined to help you with your reading.  

Spreeder.com

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This free website lets you paste in any text you choose and helps you read faster by accelerating the speed that the text is shown. Like with other programs, you can customize the speed the text is displayed, font size, color and display background. While comprehension is feasible with a fast speed, taking notes can be complicated. If you’re used to constantly pausing mid-sentence or mid-paragraph to jot down notes before you forget, speed-reading may not be the best solution for you. Although you are able to pause the text, navigating back can be challenging. Because the text isn’t broken up into page numbers or paragraphs, you can’t “flip the page back” or skip a paragraph. The text is broken up into each individual word, and finding your spot once you lose it can be tough. If you exit out of the page, you’ll have to use the scroll feature to try your best to return to where you were. Although the service does increase reading speed, fixing these gimmicks might make it more successful.

Rating: 3/5

“Accelerated Speed Reading Trainer” for iPhone

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A more game-like app, “Accelerated Speed Reading Trainer” is dedicated to testing your skills and improving your reading. It really is like a training program rather than a speed-reading app like the other ones mentioned. Using the same features as other reading apps with the flashing text, “Accelerated Speed Reading” works just as well but focuses on testing and improving your ability rather than allowing you access to any article you’d like to read. It also doesn’t include all the customization features that come with other apps. When reading, you are able to increase the number of lines you read (so you could read a paragraph instead of one word) and change the speed of the text, but you cannot change the font or the color. Additionally, while other apps let you use your own text or e-books for free, this feature seems to be a part of the premium package for this particular app. However, it does come with its own built-in library, featuring authors from Lewis Carroll to Charles Dickens. Though this may be a fun app to improve and gauge your performance in reading, it isn’t ideal for students to use to read textbooks and take notes. It also takes up a lot of space on your phone.

Rating: 2/5

“Simian Speed Reader” for iPhone

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Incorporating the same basic features as Spreeder.com, “Simian Speed Reader” brings the accessibility to your iPhone. It also allows you to paste text or enter the URL of the text file. The documents must be .txt files, which could make adding e-books challenging. Like other apps, Simian allows for customization of the font size, font style, speed, font color, background color and words displayed. It also allows you to pause and start the text as you please but doesn’t allow you to fluidly navigate through the text. Therefore, if the app accidentally closes, you lose your spot and will have to struggle to find it again. This free app isn’t very fancy, but it definitely gets the job done.

Rating: 3/5

“Hermes” for iPhone

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So far, this is the best free iPhone app we have come across. By linking to your Dropbox, “Hermes” allows you to import files easily and even allows you to paste in the URL for text files if that’s easier. The customizable features in “Hermes” outshine any other app, allowing you to change interline size, add music and have alarms in addition to the basic features other apps include, such as changing font size, font color, etc. Although it doesn’t allow you to paste in links, the accessibility and easiness of the app makes up for it. Like “Accelerated Speed Reading Trainer,” this app tests and allows you to read other books as well. It gauges your reading speed and progress while also keeping track of the number of words, books, short stories and articles you read.

Rating: 4/5

“Spritz”

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Spritz, one of the most famous reader apps, has just been released today and also does a great job of increasing reading speed. Android users get to enjoy the app today, while those who want to use it online or for the iPhone may have to wait a little longer. Judging from the online trial found here, Spritz seems to do just as good of a job with speed-reading but doesn’t include the customizable features some other apps have. Though it allows you to alter the speed, it doesn’t have a scroll feature that lets you skip or go back. You are able to pause the reading but can only start from the very beginning.

While these apps would be extremely beneficial to use for reading-intensive classes, the fact that they have to be e-books or online makes them a bit difficult to use for a variety of classes.  In addition to using these for UC Berkeley courses, students can use these apps to learn to read in other languages as well, as they are supposed to increase reading speed and comprehension. If you’re using them for pleasure, some may argue that you should really relish the book and take your time with it, but this way you’ll be able to enjoy more books at a faster pace. Not having time will never be an excuse. Regardless, we’re still waiting for an app that’ll help us work through our 500-million-page readers.

Contact Ilaf Esuf at [email protected].

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