Online subscription newsletter platform Substack announced today that it’s launching an iOS app for reading. In a blog post about the announcement, the company said the new “Substack Reader” app brings all of your Substack subscriptions into one place where you can read content from writers you follow. For writers, Substack says the new app will allow them to better connect with their readers and also give them more ownership of their content and mailing list. Writers will also be able to deliver newsletters and podcasts straight to readers’ inboxes.
The main focus of the app is to give users a simple way to read posts and discover new writers on Substack, the company says. The app also allows you to collect your newsletters in a dedicated inbox and receive notifications when a writer you’ve subscribed to has published a new post.
Once you open the app, you’re taken to your inbox, which shows you new newsletters from all of the writers you subscribe to. When you click on a post, you can use the navigation bar at the bottom to view and post comments. On the main homepage, there’s a discover tab where you can search or view featured writers. You can also browse content based on categories, including technology, politics, travel, podcasts, art and more from the discover section. The navigation bar also includes a library tab where you can view your archived posts and podcasts and manage your paid and free subscriptions.
Substack says although its main framework has been “flourishing,” it’s time for it to branch outside of email and the web with the launch of the new app.
“The app helps bring together Substack as an ecosystem, giving you an icon to tap on your home screen that opens up a treasury of quality work by the writers you most trust,” Substack said in the blog post. “It is an app for deep relationships, an alternative to the mindless scrolling and cheap dopamine hits that lie behind other home screen icons. It offers a quiet space to read, where the work itself is given the spotlight and you’re not pulled into status games or trivial diversions. And it amplifies the network effects that already exist on Substack, making it easier for writers to get new subscribers, and for readers to explore and sample Substacks they might otherwise not have found.”
Substack plans to launch new features and functions to the app as it continues to develop it, noting that this is just the first version of the app. As for an Android launch, the company says users can currently sign up for a waiting list.
Today’s announcement comes as Substack recently revealed that it’s testing video uploads in private beta. Like existing newsletter posts, creators can decide whether they want to keep videos behind a paywall or not. The feature adds another creative way for newsletter publishers to keep their subscribers engaged. Substack writers can record or upload videos directly on the platform, whether they’re publishing from mobile or the web. Videos can be up to 20GB, supporting 3GP, AAC, AVI, FLV, MP4, MOV and MPEG-2 file types. In email versions, the video will appear as a clickable image. With this new app, content creators will be able to deliver videos directly to subscribers’ inboxes.
The launch of the new app will likely help Substack better compete with other companies in the continuously expanding newsletter market. Social media companies like Facebook and Twitter have been working to integrate newsletters into their offerings, with Facebook launching its “Bulletin” Substack competitor last year and Twitter working to make its Revue acquisition more prominent on its platform.