A new app called Short from Enric Enrich, a developer at Todoist, and his friend Alex Muench aims to parse your endless queue of saved articles into something a little more manageable. Using popular services like Pocket or Instapaper that users are already working with to build up a list of reading material, Short sifts through saved items to bring out articles that require 10 minutes or less reading time, so a user can pick out a 2 minute read while they wait in line at Starbucks, for instance, or a 5 minute piece if they’ve got a few minutes to spare before a friend arrives at a lunch meeting.
Short is a full-featured reading app in other regards, featuring both day and night modes for light and dark reading themes, a reading progress bar that displays time remaining at the top of your screen persistently, and offline caching for reading when you’re beyond cellular or wireless coverage. It also works with Pocket, Instapaper, Readability, and Reading Pack, with an option to request additional sources if your favorite save-for-later service isn’t listed. Sharing via iOS 8’s share extension support and share sheet is also built-in, and it incorporates any images contained in articles in-line.
The app is free, and is designed to work on both iPhone and iPad devices. It’s a philosophical contrast to apps that aim to bring you the best long reads on the web, and one that likely makes more sense for the increasingly clipped attentions spans of most mobile readers. The fact that it piggybacks on existing reading and saving services to get its content seems a little “short”-sighted if you ask me, since it requires using more than one service, but the team clearly wanted to focus on delivering a quality user experience first, and not have to worry about building out an entire save-for-later layer of their own. Still, I predict it could supplant the kind of content blackholes that services like Pocket often become for people who fully intend to read a lot of content later on, but who find they just plain run out of time.