Reading List

A little while ago I wrote a little on doing more stuff with fewer tools, and with that goal in mind when iOS 7 launched I decided to give Reading List another try. Reading list is a Safari feature that keeps links for future viewing and syncs them via iCloud so that they are available on other devices. It was a latecomer to a game already dominated by the likes of Instapaper and Pocket and lacked feature parity, but had the advantage of being available as standard on iOS and OS X. I used it briefly but always found it had one major flaw. Unlike other iOS features such as the camera roll, third party apps had no way of exporting to Reading List and this was a problem if you wanted to save links from, say, Twitter. I could send a link from Tweetbot to Instapaper, but I couldn't save a link from Tweetbot to Reading List. The only option was to open the link in Safari and add it from there. This was actually a pretty big impediment to convenient use. Notably it was not an issue on OS X, where the facility to add to Reading List from third party apps was readily available.

Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.
— John Locke

iOS 7 contained this one, hugely important change. Third party apps now had the capability to integrate Reading List support. As I've never made much use of the many additional features of Pocket or Instagram I liked the idea of being able to lose an app without losing any functionality. It took some apps a little while to roll out their iOS 7 updates, but before long my regular use apps had Reading List support. I haven't looked back since.

I'd still recommend that if any of the advanced features of a third party app (such as favourites, tagging, or IFTTT support) are useful to you then you should stick to that solution. Reading list is very basic; it saves the link, it shows you the article later, it dumps the link in the done-with pile and forgets about it. Combined with Reader view in Safari it replicates the core function of those apps, but more or less stops there. This covered pretty much everything I need, and there's a satisfaction to being able to get the most out of the tools you've been provided with. As much as I was enamoured with Instapaper for years I took a certain pleasure in being able to delete it; not because Instapaper was flawed, it is in fact awesome, but because it was no longer necessary.